Pearl Energy Staying Focused on Southeast Asia

KUALA LUMPUR, May 17, 2005 (Dow Jones Commodities News via Comtex)

While many larger oil companies are eyeing Africa, Central Asia and the Americas in their search for reserves, Singapore-based upstream newcomer Pearl Energy (P38.SG) is focusing its investments in Southeast Asia.

"We don't really need to look beyond Southeast Asia, at least not for in the near term...there are so many opportunities in this region," Richard Lorentz, director for the newly-listed Singapore-based company said in an interview with Dow Jones Newswires. The company has interests in nine exploration and production contracts in Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, of which three are already producing oil.

This year and through 2006, Pearl expects to drill 22 exploration wells in Indonesia, and 49 development and delineation wells in its existing contract areas.

"We are also on an exploration expansion program in Vietnam, and we are looking at Malaysia and Brunei. And yes, our activities will remain very much Asia-centric," Lorentz said.

Its Jasmine oil field in the Gulf of Thailand is expected to come on stream at the end of this month and is expected to produce 10,000 barrels a day of light, sweet crude during the first six months of production.

"We are encouraged by the drilling results. The development has gone as far as we've expected it to go," he said.

In Indonesia, Pearl's production sharing venture in an oil field near Indonesia's Salawati island will come on line in the second half of this year.

Recent testing on delineation wells there showed they could produce between 8,000-12,000 b/d of oil, Lorentz said.

Pearl expects to see a return to profitability this year and a substantial rise in profits in 2006.

It expects a net profit of slightly below $1 million this year, reversing last year's loss of around $6 million, according to Lorentz.

"The forecast assumes we will meet our production target by end of the year and a conservative crude oil price of $31 a barrel," Lorentz said.

He anticipates a 2006 net profit for the company at slightly below $10 million, based on a conservative crude oil price of $30/bbl.

"We're in a very fortunate time in this region. Combined with high crude oil prices, (we have a) high success ratio in commercial finds in oil and gas, with stable economies and good infrastructure already in place," Lorentz said.

"From our perspective, we are very bullish on this region." (C) 2005 FWN Financial News. All Rights Reserved