DNO ASA, the Norwegian oil and gas operator, today reported stepped up investments across its portfolio on the back of higher production and significantly improved liquidity outlook as the Company recovers from the oil market turmoil that upended the second quarter of 2020.
Operated production in July at the Company's flagship Tawke license in the Kurdistan region of Iraq is up 15,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd) month-on-month to 115,000 bopd following a well intervention campaign fast tracked in June with the stabilization of oil prices and improved export payment terms.
In the North Sea segment, DNO projects receipt of USD 215 million in tax refunds in the second half of the year, including USD 70 million from the recently announced temporary changes to petroleum taxation in Norway.
"The worst of the coronavirus pandemic hit to our business is behind us and DNO is back identifying and capturing opportunities," said Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani, DNO's Executive Chairman. "Still, we are prepared to act quickly, as we did in March, if a strong second wave comes," he added.
Second quarter Company Working Interest (CWI) production stood at 89,700 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) of which Kurdistan contributed 71,900 bopd and the North Sea 17,800 boepd.
Gross operated Tawke license production averaged 102,000 bopd, including 58,100 bopd from the Tawke field and 43,900 bopd from the Peshkabir field, together down 11 percent from the first quarter as development activity dropped off to preserve cash at a time of historically low and uncertain oil prices.
Second quarter revenues slid to USD 72 million and operating losses climbed to USD 81 million, both driven by weak commodity prices across the portfolio and lower cargo liftings of produced oil in the North Sea.
At the Baeshiqa license in Kurdistan, DNO continued drilling the third exploration well on a second structure (Zartik) some 15 kilometers southeast of the Baeshiqa-2 discovery well. The rig has been released and testing will commence in August in Lower Jurassic and Upper Triassic zones intersected by the well and expected to last three months. Evaluation of the Baeshiqa-2 results is ongoing to determine commerciality.
During the first half of 2020 DNO received a total of USD 224 million in payments from the Kurdistan Regional Government. In addition, the Company received a USD 23 million June entitlement payment after the end of the reporting period. Discussions are ongoing to reach an agreement on acceptable terms and timing of payment of arrears totaling USD 240 million due to DNO for the November 2019-February 2020 entitlements and November 2019-June 2020 override payments.
Notwithstanding the interruption of these payments and DNO's repayment of the remaining USD 138.5 million of the DNO01 bond at maturity on 18 June 2020, the Company exited the first half of 2020 with a strong cash balance of USD 427 million. Net debt at the end of the second quarter stood at USD 537 million, down from USD 559 million at the end of the first quarter.
Last month, DNO commissioned the Peshkabir-to-Tawke gas reinjection project, the first enhanced oil recovery project in Kurdistan, to unlock additional oil volumes at Tawke while significantly reducing gas flaring and CO2 discharges at Peshkabir.
Prompted by the tax changes in Norway, the Company is working with partners to accelerate infill drilling at the Ula, Tambar and Brage producing fields, revisit development options for the Brasse field and actively evaluate the Iris/Hades, Fogelberg and Trym South discoveries.
DNO will remain an active explorer in the North Sea, targeting 4-6 wildcat wells a year.