Amerisur Resources held out the prospect of further growth in its reserves base as it confirmed a trebling of revenues and leap in profits from fields in Colombia.
Giles Clarke, chairman of the South American oil explorer, said bottlenecks constraining Amerisur’s ability to distribute oil produced at its Platanillo field in the Putumayo basin of south Colombia continued to constrain output to 4,000 barrels a day, compared with a current capacity of 7,000 barrels.
But John Wardle, chief executive, said Amerisur was examining ways of improving routes to market for oil pumped from wells in the far south of the country that could include transporting it through neighbouring Ecuador.
Oil production across the country continues to be disrupted by the activities of the weakened FARC guerrilla group. But Amerisur is one of a number of foreign operators seeking to take advantage of a liberalisation of the country’s oil industry and revive neglected fields previously controlled by Ecopetrol, Colombia’s state-backed oil company.
Mr Clarke, founder of Majestic Wine and self-storage chain Safestore who is also chairman of the England & Wales Cricket Board, forecast further drilling would boost the company’s performance this year.
“In some ways victims of our early success during the year, we are actively resolving the export constraint issues and plan to drill 10 new wells in total on Platanillo this year, plus sidetracks of the legacy wells, thus increasing Platanillo production to substantial levels,” he said.
An updated assessment of Amerisur’s proven and probable reserves more than trebled from under 8m to 30m barrels of oil during the year, during which Amerisur raised £26.5m to accelerate drilling at Platanillo and also to bid for further blocks elsewhere in Colombia in a round that also attracted the interest of several oil majors.
The company also said it planned to begin test drilling in exploration blocks in Paraguay next year following the completion of gravity and seismic surveying in the landlocked country that borders Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia.
Revenue for the 12 months to December rose from $14m to $42m while pre-tax profits advanced from $3.5m to $20m.
Amerisur, which is planning to spend $75m on capital expenditure this year, ended the period with cash reserves of $47m.
In a note on Tuesday broker Investec maintained a “buy” recommendation, forecasting that expanding production could result in revenues rising from $42m to $190m this year and in excess of $300m next year as bottlenecks in distribution are tackled and further reserves confirmed.
By Michael Kavanagh, FT.com