Premier Oil has played down a report that South Korea’s state-backed oil firm KNOC had made a takeover approach.
A spokesman for the UK-listed oil and gas operator said yesterday that, if any approach had been made, the company would have been obliged to make an announcement to the market.
He was responding to a newspaper report which said KNOC had held preliminary discussions with the British firm. The report said Premier Oil was one of a number of operators with whom the Koreans had held discussions. KNOC declined to comment.
Premier has interests in the North Sea, Middle East, Pakistan and south-east Asia.
KNOC, which has a substantial war chest to spend on cutting South Korea’s almost total dependence on imported oil, paid £1.67billion for Aberdeen-based oil and gas operator Dana Petroleum in September.
Shares in Premier Oil rose as much as 13% to a year high of £20.32 in early trading but fell back later to £18.60, valuing the firm at £2.16billion.
KNOC plans to increase production from its current 140,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) to 300,000boepd by 2012.
Premier fits well with these plans with its production of 45,000boepd expected to rise towards 75,000boepd by 2012 and projects identified to push this to 100,000boepd by 2014-15, according to analysts at RBC Capital Markets.
They also noted that Premier had been the subject of bid speculation in the past from potential Middle East buyers, adding that if a KNOC bid did emerge it would likely face competition.
Premier Oil is due to update on trading today.