MELBOURNE, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Papua New Guinea-focused Oil Search reported a 16 percent rise in third quarter revenue over the previous quarter, thanks to a rise in oil and gas prices and higher volumes, ahead of analysts' forecasts.
Revenue rose to $309.5 million in the September quarter from $267.7 million in the June quarter. Two analysts had expected revenue of around $290 million.
Sales volumes rose 4 percent to 7.5 million barrels of oil equivalent (mmboe) from the previous quarter, despite a small drop in output in August due to a landholder protest. UBS and RBC analysts had expected sales of 7.4 mmboe.
The company said production was trending toward the top end of its forecast range for 2016 of 28-30 mmboe.
The PNG LNG (liquefied natural gas) project, operated by ExxonMobil Corp, produced at an annual rate of 8.1 million tonnes in the quarter, its highest rate since production began two years ago and 17 percent above its nameplate capacity, Oil Search said.
ExxonMobil Corp trumped Oil Search in July with a $2.5 billion bid for InterOil Corp in a push to consolidate PNG LNG with the rival Papua LNG project owned by French giant Total, InterOil and Oil Search.
"We look forward to commencing discussions regarding a cooperative development agenda with Total, ExxonMobil and the PNG Government prior to year-end," Oil Search Managing Director Peter Botten said in the quarterly report.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Richard Pullin)
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