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Gulf Keystone Petroleum mulls rocky road

Iraqi-focused oil player under strain from market and security pressures.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   March 17, 2016 at 6:28 AM
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LONDON, March 17 (UPI) -- Under pressure from low oil prices, Kurdish-focused explorer Gulf Keystone Petroleum said it may start to see its reserve base decline without more spending.

"In the interest of all stakeholders, strenuous efforts are currently underway to strengthen the balance sheet, not only to ensure our ability to remain as a going concern, but also to be able to provide new capital to increase production and as a solid foundation for the longer-term future of the company," CEO Jon Ferrier said in a statement.

The company over the past few months has been supported by payments from the government in the Kurdish north of Iraq for oil exports from its Shaikan development. Nevertheless, security issues associated with the fight against the terrorist group calling itself the Islamic State pose a risk factor to a company already under pressure from lower crude oil prices.

Already, Gulf Keystone relinquished non-core assets in the Kurdish north and was still working to "aggressively manage" its costs. Without additional spending, the company said its core assets in the Shaikan area may start to decline.

The company last year averaged 30,500 barrels of oil per day and said it could maintain levels at 40,000 bpd, provided regular payments from the Kurdish government are made and finances are available.

Shares in the company dropped to a multi-year low following the announcement as analysts weighed the multitude of external pressures it faces.

"It remains a long and winding road forward for this one-time darling stock of retail investors and there may well be several more bumps to come," David Cheetham, a market analyst at XTB.com, said in an emailed statement.

Gulf Keystone Petroleum last year said it was looking for partners or potential buyers as part of a long-term strategic review.

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