Nigeria's Seplat Says 1Q Profit Hurt By Lower Oil Price


LAGOS, April 28 (Reuters) - Seplat Petroleum on Tuesday posted a 47 percent drop in first quarter pretax profit, blaming lower crude prices and pipeline shutdowns in Africa's biggest oil producer.

The oil and gas exploration firm said its oil price during the first three months to end-March averaged $52.8 per barrel, booking a premium of $1.52 per a litre, compared with $112.9 bbl a year earlier.

Seplats' shares fell 5.6 percent on the London stock market to 129.25 pence, while the shares were flat in Lagos at 370 naira but have dropped by 36 percent since listing last April.

"Whilst we continue to deal with the challenges presented by the lower oil price environment ... we are excited about the numerous growth opportunities available to us," Seplat CEO Austin Avuru said in a statement.

The company said last month it expected its gas business to contribute around a third of profits over the next two years, up from less than 10 percent currently, as demand for electricity generation in Africa's biggest economy soars.

Seplat, which is pursuing a Nigeria-focused growth strategy, said it had completed a $1 billion refinancing deal of its debt facilities, with a mix of local and international lenders.

Seplat said revenues also fell by 10.3 percent to $131.1 million as sales suffered after the Trans Forcados pipeline, a major export terminal, was shut for 25 days during the period.

The Senate on Tuesday cut Nigeria's 2015 budget by more than 3 percent following expected weaker oil returns.

(Editing by James Macharia)


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