Petroceltic posts $4.1m pretax loss

IRISH exploration company Petroceltic has reported a pretax loss of $4.1 million (€2.85m) for the first half of this year; down slightly from a loss of nearly $5m for the same period last year.

The Dublin-headquartered company — which is active in southern Europe, north Africa and the Middle East — also saw its loss per share narrow from 31c to 20c and first half revenues rise from $119,000 to $158,000.

Chief executive Brian O’Cathain noted yesterday that the company’s asset base has been “considerably” strengthened over the past 12 months and the plan is to “maintain and exploit” recent operational momentum.

“Although stock market conditions, in recent months, have presented challenges to all companies, Petroceltic has the team, the assets and the funding to deliver our ambitious growth objectives and create significant value for our shareholders,” he said.

Petroceltic is set to report results from its enlarged appraisal programme from its headline asset in Algeria next month, and recently announced its expansion into Iraq, via a joint venture agreement with US oil and gas company, Hess Corporation.

Regarding Algeria, Mr O’Cathain said: “Drilling operations will see at least three further well results and four test results completed in the next six months, and our objective is to maintain and exploit the momentum created in this world class discovery.”

Petroceltic’s latest figures show the company has a current cash balance of $84m and no debt.

While the financial results for the first half of the year came in below expectations — analysts had anticipated a much more pronounced narrowing of losses to $2.1m — the pending results from the next wells in Algeria are being viewed as being of far greater significance, particularly in light of recent disappointing drilling results.

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