Venture Production said yesterday that 2009 had started positively with good progress across all areas of its business: production, field development and drilling.
Chief executive Mike Wagstaff told shareholders at the Aberdeen-based oil and gas operator’s AGM in the Granite City that production this year had averaged about 53,500 barrels of oil equivalent (boe) per day, some 17.5% higher than for the equivalent period last year. He said key to this were contributions from the Chestnut, Grouse and Stamford fields, all brought into production during the second half of 2008, combined with very good well, facilities and infrastructure performance.
Mr Wagstaff added that natural decline and planned downtime for summer maintenance would reduce Venture’s average production rate going forward but the company was confident that full-year production for 2009 would show modest growth over 2008.
He said: “The focus in our 2009 capital programme is on drilling to prove up new reserves as opposed to field-development activity to bring new fields into production, and the first four months of the year has been a very active period.
“As separately announced, Venture has had an independent assessment of its reserves prepared by DeGolyer and McNaughton at March 31. This indicates total proven and probable reserves at this date of 243million boe, compared to 214million boe at the end of 2008.
“Venture’s balance sheet remains strong, with a cash and cash-equivalent balance of about £182million as at March 31 and a £365million five-year syndicated corporate bank facility, which is undrawn other than letters of credit.”
Mr Wagstaff also said that Venture welcomed the change in the oil and gas tax regime announced in the recent Budget, and that the introduction of a new field allowance to offset the supplemental corporation tax charge would be beneficial for development of its portfolio of small fields with below 20-25billion boe of recoverable resources.
He said: “In light of the strong operational performance, an exciting opportunity set and having the financial resources necessary to exploit these opportunities, the board remains highly confident in the outlook for Venture’s business.”
British and Scottish Gas owner Centrica indicated in March it had acquired more than 33million shares in Venture and held a 23.6% stake in the company.
Centrica said it would consider options including a possible cash offer for Venture. The Aberdeen firm added yesterday it could not comment on Centrica’s plans but said there had been no change since March and the gas group had not sought representation on its board.
All 25 resolutions tabled at yesterday’s meeting were carried overwhelmingly, but more than 35million shares were withheld from voting on each resolution, the vast majority thought to be shares held by Centrica, which declined to comment.