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Premier Oil profit jumps, starts Zama sale process

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(Reuters) – Britain’s Premier Oil <PMO.L> posted a 23.5% rise in its first-half profit after tax on Thursday, boosted by record output, and said it has begun the process to sell its assets in the Zama field on offshore Mexico to cut debt.

Profit after tax rose to $121 million for six months ended June 30 from $98 million (80.86 million pounds) a year earlier, helped by higher output from Catcher field in Britain’s North Sea, Premier Oil said.

The oil and gas producer, which had raised its resource estimate for the Zama field in June, said increasing interest in Mexico’s shallow water had prompted it to start the sale process.

“In the success case, this will lead to a material reduction in the Group’s debt levels,” said Premier Oil, whose net debt was $2.15 billion as of June end. Jefferies analysts valued Premier’s assets at the Zama field at $439 million.

The company’s divestment plans come as it looks to expand its flagship Catcher field in the British North Sea, where it expects to receive approval to develop satellite oil fields very soon.

The FTSE 250-listed company said output rose 10.4% to 84,100 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) from 76,200 boepd, and reaffirmed 2019 production target of 75,000 to 80,000 boepd after having raised the range in May.

(Reporting by Shanima A and Muvija M in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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