Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Kurdish oil player Genel Energy said Thursday its performance improved in the fourth quarter and it was anticipating oil production growth in 2018.
Genel said total production for the fourth quarter for its operations in the Kurdish north of Iraq averaged 127,100 barrels per day, with its net at 35,200 barrels per day. Exports through pipelines from the Taq Taq and Tawke license areas averaged 119,950 barrels per day, with the rest going to area refineries.
Murat Ozgul, the company's chief executive, said new wells were brought into production during the fourth quarter and a well in the Peshkabir license area tripled field production.
"A strong final quarter of 2017 completed a very positive year for Genel," he said in a statement.
Genel in its previous report acknowledged the last three years were difficult. Operations near flagship production facilities in the Kurdish north of Iraq were clouded by security challenges, and production from its regional Taq Taq oil field moved sharply lower in part because of reserve downgrades.
In its fourth quarter report, the company said Taq Taq production averaged 18,050 barrels per day last year, but declined year-to-date to an average of 14,450 barrels per day, which it said was in line with fourth quarter levels.
For 2018, Genel said it would spend between $95 million and $140 million, with as much as $40 million targeting Taq Taq and Tawke.
"Based on a continuation of payments throughout 2018, Genel expects to generate material free cash flow in 2018," the company stated.
Crude oil from northern Iraq flows primarily by truck and through a pipeline from Kurdish territory to a Turkish sea port. A second pipeline from Iraqi territory in the north could be used once it's rehabilitated, and British energy company BP suggested it was in broader talks on reconstruction efforts in Kirkuk.
A review of Genel emailed to UPI by RBC Capital Markets said it was looking at whether gains from Peshkabir would lead to overall improvements, or just offset the declines from other areas.
"That said, activity levels remain dependent on production performance, drilling results and ongoing payments, but with higher prices and continued payment infill drilling activity could ramp up in 2018," its report read.