Thailand's PTTEP Slips to 4Q Net Loss as Weak Oil Prices Weigh


BANGKOK, Jan 29 (Reuters) - PTT Exploration and Production PCL, Thailand's largest oil and gas explorer, reported its first quarterly net loss in more than a decade, mainly due to higher impairment loss on assets after declines in global oil prices.

PTTEP expected its sales volume to rise about 6 percent to 343,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2015, mainly on higher gas output from Myanmar's Zawtika field and the planned start-up of an oil project in Algeria in the second half of the year, it said in a statement.

"The continuous decline in crude oil prices in 2015 will continue to impact PTTEP's performance," it said. PTTEP plans to cut costs and reassess projects which are in the development stage to minimise the impact of the lower oil prices, it said.

PTTEP, flagship of top Thai energy firm PTT PCL's upstream business, reported a net loss of $739 million for the October-December quarter versus a profit of $239 million in the same quarter a year earlier.

This compared with an average 22 billion baht ($675 million) loss forecasted by 11 analysts polled by Reuters.

The quarterly loss, the first since the second quarter of 1998, dragged its net profit down 63 percent to $677 million for all of 2014, while its sales volume rose 10 percent.

At the end of 2014, the company had cash of $4 billion. PTTEP said it aimed to spend $4.83 billion this year to develop several petroleum projects in Thailand and Southeast Asia.

PTTEP, ranked among Asia's top 10 explorers, is still looking for oil and gas assets, mainly in Southeast Asia, to boost energy security in Thailand.

PTTEP shares have dropped 22 percent in the past three months, underperforming a 2 percent gain on the broad Thai index due to concerns that weak oil prices would erode its earnings growth.

($1 = 32.6300 Thai Baht)

(Reporting by Khettiya Jittapong; Editing by Michael Perry and Tom Hogue)


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