January 23, 2018 / 12:14 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Oil Search Q4 revenue rises on strong PNG LNG output, rising prices

(Adds details about PNG LNG Project, oil prices)

Jan 23 (Reuters) - Papua New Guinea-focused Oil Search Ltd reported a 12.6 percent rise in fourth-quarter revenue on Tuesday, supported by strong output from the PNG LNG (liquefied natural gas) project and improving oil prices.

Revenue for the three months ended Dec. 31 rose to $389 million from $345.6 million in the year-ago quarter, in line with analysts' estimate of $390 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Oil Search said it expects 2018 full-year production to be in the range of 28.5 million to 30.5 million barrels of oil equivalent (mmboe), against 2017 production of 30.31 mmboe.

The ExxonMobil-led PNG LNG project produced at an annual rate of 8.3 million tonnes in the quarter, 20 percent above its nameplate capacity, the company said.

"Fourth quarter production of 7.59 mmboe took full-year production to 30.31 mmboe, which was at the upper end of our guidance range and an all-time record," it said.

Oil Search said talks with its partners ExxonMobil Corp and Total SA on expanding the project had progressed and the companies expect to present their plan to the PNG government early this year.

They aim to make a final investment decision on the expansion in 2019, Oil Search said. The timing is a bit later than Oil Search has previously flagged but in line with analysts' expectations.

The rise in revenue was also underpinned by a 16 percent rise in crude oil prices in the December quarter.

Quarterly sales volume, however, fell 6 percent to 7.67 mmboe, Oil Search added.

Shares of Oil Search climbed 0.4 percent in early trade compared with a 0.5 percent rise in the benchmark index. (Reporting by Chandini Monnappa in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin)

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