Ophir Falls Most in Year on Africa Drilling Delays: London Mover

Ophir Energy Plc (OPHR), a U.K. explorer in East and West Africa, fell the most in a year in London trading after announcing delays in drilling and exploration plans.

Ophir slid as much as 10 percent to 350 pence, the biggest drop since Aug. 2, 2012. Ophir and BG Group Plc (BG/) delayed plans to start deepwater drilling off Tanzania in September. The explorer also delayed exploration plans in Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and is studying its options in Ghana after unsuccessful drilling.

“We’ve not stopped drilling,” Chief Executive Officer Nick Cooper told analysts on a call today. “People are acting as if we haven’t been drilling in the first half of the year. We’ve been drilling continuously.”

Ophir fell 9.4 percent to 353.20 pence by 10:36 a.m. local time, making it the worst performer on the FTSE All-Share Index. (ASX)

Ophir, plans to drill 10 wells through 2014 in search of about 5 billion barrels of oil equivalent resources, according to a presentation by the London-based company.

It is seeking partners to share project costs in Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya and Tanzania, Cooper said. “We reset the clock in March and we recommenced negotiations pretty soon thereafter,” he said. “It’s a weak macro environment” for raising capital for exploration and production.

Ophir plans to begin drilling the Mlinzi well in Block 7 off Tanzania in the fourth quarter. It’s the company’s largest well in its campaign seeking about 3.5 billion barrels of resources and will cost about $100 million to drill, Cooper said. The company also plans to bid for exploration licenses in Myanmar to expand its reach beyond Africa, the CEO said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eduard Gismatullin in London at egismatullin@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net

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