NORTH Sea driller Trap Oil is hoping to “turn the head” of a potential suitor as it reports the benefit of its first producing asset this week.
The company’s interim figures, due on Wednesday, will be the first since its “transformational” acquisition of a 15 per stake in the Athena development in March.
The oil that started flowing in May from the field’s first well will help finance the exploration ambitions of a number of the industry’s smaller firms.
However, one of the partners, Lochard Energy, has already put itself up for sale as it seeks to cash in on a wave of consolidation in the industry.
Further tax breaks on production from mature fields granted recently by Chancellor George Osborne have made North Sea-focused companies a more alluring target for cash-rich oil majors and have sparked a number of rumours regarding takeovers, although the allowance is also benefitting smaller explorer-producers such as Trap.
Sam Wahab, oil and gas industry analyst at Seymour Pierce, said all the Aim-quoted oil companies are “essentially for sale”, because they lack the cash and often the technical expertise to develop fully their discoveries. He said many investors saw a full takeover as the ultimate goal.
But he said it was perhaps a bit too early for Trap to tout itself for sale, as it only floated last year, although “every company has its price”.
He said they are more likely to apply for more exploration licences and look to develop them with seismic surveys and exploration drilling.
“If they can increase production through development drilling, that’s their real value driver and what will really turn the heads of a major,” Wahab said.
Trap is still sitting on cash from its flotation after using half the £60 million proceeds to buy Aberdeen-based Reach Oil & Gas. It sold the latter’s interest in the Lacewing oil discovery and bought a stake in Athena for £34.5m.
The company – which is run by chief executive Mark Groves-Gidney and chairman Kevin Watts – said at the time that it had completed the promises it made on flotation by putting itself in a position to drill seven or eight wells a year, with production to make that tax efficient.
Drilling of the firm’s Romeo well began on Friday, with its Magnolia and Scotney prospects expected to follow soon.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: West