Oil and gas exploration and production group Tullow Oil said profit slumped last year as prices fell and output declined.
Profit after tax fell 92 per cent to £19 million (€20.9 million), while sales revenue was down 16 per cent to £582 milllion. This compares to £226 million in profit and £692 million in revenue the year before. Basic earnings per share were 94 per cent down at 1.9 pence.
The company said the results were in line with market expectations, although they had slipped compared to 2008.
However, Tullow said its exploration performance was "outstanding", with 13 discoveries from 15 wells.
Its production fell 12 per cent to 58,300 barrels of oil equivalent a day last year as the company focused on investments in its exploration projects in Ghana and Uganda. Tullow got an average of
$60 a barrel for its oil in 2009, from $73.60 the previous year.
The company said successful drilling in the past year showed potential resources of 4.5 billion barrels across all its prospects and fields in Ghana.
"This points to remaining exploration gross upside potential of 1.3 billion barrels – a substantial prize for Tullow and its partners to chase up," Phil Corbett, oil analyst at Royal Bank of Scotland, said.
The company upped its "proved plus probably" reserves estimates — the most likely estimate of recoverable reserves – for its Tweneboa field to 400 million barrels from 250 million.
Exploration director Angus McCoss said the field could be as big as the nearby Jubilee field which has proved plus probable reserves of 1.2 billion barrels.
The company plans to drill 30 exploration wells in 2010.
“A strong performance in 2009 and an excellent start to 2010 has enabled the Group to continue to create material exploration and development opportunities. Although our 2009 reported results still reflect a period of financial transition, first oil in Ghana from the Jubilee field later this year will result in considerable production growth and increased cash flow," said chief executive Aidan Heavey.
"Our future growth is well underpinned by a significantly strengthened capital structure and overall the performance prospects for the Group are very strong.”