2004 was an excellent year for Tullow with record levels of production, turnover, profits and cash flow. The acquisition and rapid integration of Energy Africa and the recently completed acquisition of Schooner and Ketch have transformed the Group. Tullow is now strategically well positioned with a balanced portfolio of oil and gas assets in both mature and developing regions and a strong platform for future growth and development.
The UK gas market is a key area of focus for Tullow and, following the start up of the Horne and Wren fields where output has already reached its anticipated plateau rate of 90mmscfd, Tullow's gas production is at an all time high. The Schooner and Ketch assets also contributed strongly to this performance with a sustained average rate in excess of 50mmscfd since we took over as operator in early April.
In Africa we have a very active program with over 40 infill and development wells planned for 2005. In Congo (Brazzaville), ten development wells on the M'Boundi field have been completed to date and gross production is now approximately 44,000 bopd with capacity to process up to 60,000 bopd. In Cote d'Ivoire and Equatorial Guinea the infill drilling and development programs on Espoir, Ceiba and Okume are all progressing on time and on budget. In Gabon, net production to date in 2005 has been maintained at over 18,500 bopd, an increase from 14,000 bopd when the assets were acquired.
Significant progress has also been made on the Kudu gas-to-power project, offshore Namibia. The Front End Engineering and Design study contract was awarded in March 2005. The study is scheduled to complete at the end of July and an investment decision is expected in early 2006. In addition, appraisal of the field's considerable reserves upside is ongoing with drilling planned for 2006.
The Group's 2005 exploration program has already resulted in a gas discovery with the Opal well close to our CMS infrastructure in the Southern North Sea. In the second half of the year the Group will drill high risk, high reward prospects in Mauritania and Uganda and a range of prospects close to existing infrastructure in the UK, Gabon and Pakistan.
A more detailed review of operations will be provided in our pre-close period Trading Statement and Operational Update in July 2005.
In the first half of 2005 the Group has also made substantial progress in the refinancing of existing debt facilities. This refinancing will provide up to $850 million of debt capacity giving greater flexibility in the funding of our ongoing development programs. We expect this facility to be executed in July.
In summary, 2004 was a transforming year for Tullow and the Group's strong performance in the first half of 2005 is encouraging. In the UK and Africa, production continues to grow and in South Asia there is ongoing progress with key projects. The growing momentum in our activities and the positive pricing environment gives us confidence that 2005 will be another excellent year for the Group.
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