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UPDATE 1-Oil producer Ophir cuts capex again amid crude slump

(Adds capex, results, shares)

Sept 15 Oil and natural gas producer Ophir Energy Plc cut its 2016 capital budget for the second time this year to weather a crude price slump and said it had short-listed four potential partners for the Fortuna project in Equatorial Guinea.

Shares in the company were up 2.5 percent at 73 pence at 0930 GMT.

Ophir, which has producing assets mainly in Asia, said it planned to spend $140 million to $170 million on projects this year, down from its previous estimate of $150 million to $200 million.

Ophir initially forecast capital spending of $175 million to $225 million for the year in January. 

A steep fall in crude prices from mid-2014 highs has forced oil producers to rein in costs and develop low-cost projects.

Ophir said it was ready to recommence its drilling programme and expected to drill three to five operated wells in 2017-18.

The company, which has been seeking partners to help fund the Fortuna Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG) project since oilfield services company Schlumberger walked away from a deal in June, said it had short-listed potential partners for the downstream portion of the project.

Ophir said the upstream part of the project was "technically ready" for a final investment decision and two consortia were still bidding for an engineering contract.

Ophir said it pretax loss from continuing operations narrowed to $69.6 million for the six months ended June 30, from $123.3 million a year earlier, helped by cost cuts. Revenue fell 39.8 percent to $52.1 million (Reporting by Pranav Kiran in Bengaluru; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)

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