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Iraq-focused Gulf Keystone Petroleum ready to rise

Company was the target of a takeover offer from a Norwegian oil and gas company.

By
Daniel J. Graeber
Gulf Keystone Petroleum said it's on the road to recovery as restructuring benefits start to pay off for the Iraq-focused oil company. Photo courtesy of Gulf Keystone Petroleum
Gulf Keystone Petroleum said it's on the road to recovery as restructuring benefits start to pay off for the Iraq-focused oil company. Photo courtesy of Gulf Keystone Petroleum

LONDON, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Iraq-focused oil player Gulf Keystone Petroleum said it was on the cusp of recovery with its strong position in a field that was doing better than expected.

The company last year said it was looking for partners or potential buyers as part of a long-term strategic review. It's now reached an agreement with the majority of its creditors and shareholders to restructure its debt obligations

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Once completed, the company said it would cut its debt load by approximately 80 percent to $100 million, which could in turn free up millions of dollars in cash.

"Upon completion of the restructuring we will be able to effectively relaunch Gulf Keystone," CEO Jon Ferrier said in a statement. "We will benefit from an enhanced balance sheet, a well-understood field which continues to perform above expectations and a clear path to significantly increasing production and growing value over time."

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The company is focused on developing the Shaikan oil field in the Kurdish north of Iraq. In its latest statement, the company said the average gross production rate was 33,000 barrels of oil per day and is on pace to sustain that rate. Post-restructuring could support a production gain of around 20 percent.

For the six months ending June 30, the company said gross production was 6 million barrels, up 28 percent from the same time last year.

Ferrier said restructuring was the best possible option to maintain value in reserves. Norwegian oil and gas company DNO, which itself has a strong Iraqi portfolio, came forward in late July with a $300 million bid, an offer Gulf Keystone Petroleum didn't reference in its latest corporate results.

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"Restructuring is on track and expected to complete on or around Oct. 14," the company indicated.

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