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Tullow Oil posted a third consecutive annual loss as it wrote off more of its Africa-focused exploration business, sending its shares lower.

Tullow shares were down 4.4 percent at 0850 GMT and fell as low as 275 pence, their weakest since Nov. 30. They lagged a 0.3 percent decline in the sector index .SXEP.

The company posted $597 million full-year loss blamed on impairments, revenues dip 21% to $1.27 billion as net debt stands at $4.8 billion.

The company’s net debt stood at $4.78 billion at the end of 2016, up from $4.02 billion a year earlier.

Revenue fell around 20% to $1.27 billion despite its TEN oilfields coming on stream, as weak oil prices ate into the value of sales.

Tullow has tightened its investment budget to just $500m this year, of which $125m will be covered by Total which agreed last month to buy most of Tullow’s stake in a Uganda project for $900m.

Tullow, founder and long-serving chief executive Aidan Heavey will hand over to Chief Operating Officer Paul McDade in April, was hit hard by the collapse in oil prices in 2014 just as it was investing heavily in its flagship TEN oil project off Ghana.

The Company also announced that it had extended its corporate facility by a further year to April 2019. It plans to refinance its debt this year.Exploration work this year will focus on Suriname, where it will start drilling in the second half of the year in an area that has a resource potential estimated at more than 500 million barrels. Drilling is also under way in Kenya.

New Ventures activity delivers acreage in Zambia and Guyana; 2017 activity includes high impact Araku-1 well in Suriname and seismic campaigns in Mauritania, Kenya, Ghana, Jamaica, Uruguay and Guyana to identify future drilling candidates.

Commenting on the results, Aiden Heavy, chief executive Tullow Oil said: “The clear highlight of 2016 was delivering Ghana’s second major oil and gas development, the TEN fields, on time and on budget. Production from TEN, alongside our other West African oil production, has provided Tullow with free cash flow and enabled us to begin the important process of deleveraging our balance sheet. As we focus our free cash flow primarily on reducing our debt, capital discipline remains critical. We have made excellent progress with our East African developments and are building a high quality exploration portfolio to grow our business. As I move to become Chairman of the Group and hand over to Paul McDade, Tullow has the right assets and expertise to take full advantage of the opportunities ahead.”


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