Premier Oil Scraps Dividend as it Swings to 2014 Loss


LONDON, Feb 26 (Reuters) – Oil producer Premier Oil has scrapped its 2014 dividend payment after slipping into the red on the back of a steep decline in oil prices that forced the firm to book $328 million in impairment charges on some of its oil and gas assets.

The London-listed firm, whose operations stretch from the Falkland Islands to Indonesia, reported a worse-than-expected $210.3 million loss on Thursday on $1.6 billion of sales revenue.

Its shares fell more than two percent in early trading in London.

"As we enter 2015 with a significantly lower oil price than in recent years, the Board believes it is not prudent to propose a dividend payment for the full year," said Premier Oil Chairman Mike Welton in the company's full-year results statement.

Last year, the firm paid a 5 pence per share dividend to shareholders.

Premier Oil, whose share price has halved since oil prices started dropping in June 2014, also said its 2015 capital expenditure programme would be significantly lower than last year's $1.2 billion.

The oil firm is placing its hopes on successful drilling results from the Falklands in the South Atlantic to help boost its valuation which has been hit hard by the fall in oil prices.

It said plans to start drilling there in early March are still on track.

The company has also increased its forward sales since its last market update in January, saying 50 percent of its 2015 liquids production had been hedged at an average price of just under $98 per barrel.

(Reporting by Karolin Schaps; editing by Jason Neely)



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