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Afren Surges to 18-Month High on Kenya Drill Optimism

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Jan. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Afren Plc, a U.K.-based oil explorer in Africa and Iraq, surged to the highest level in 18 months amid speculation that drilling results from its Paipai well in Kenya will soon be released.

The shares jumped 9.2 percent to 152 pence at the close of trading in London, the highest since July 2011. The volume of stock changing hands was more than 10 times the three-month average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“Afren is up on high volume amid rumors of forthcoming results from the Paipai prospects in which Tullow Oil and Africa Oil also have a stake,” said Jawaid Afsar, a trader at Securequity Ltd. in Sheffield, England.

Tullow Oil Plc rallied 3.5 percent to 1,195 pence in London while Africa Oil Corp. slipped 0.9 percent to C$7.52 at 11:51 a.m. in Toronto trading.

An external spokesman for Afren, who asked not to be identified, declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg News today. Galib Virani, an associate director at Afren, told Bloomberg News on Jan. 21 that operator Tullow “should be in a position to make some announcement over the next three weeks or so.”

Afren, which owns oil fields in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, rallied 53 percent last year as the Daily Mail reported that Exxon Mobil Corp. and Italy’s Eni SpA examined the company. Exxon’s chief executive officer, Rex Tillerson, met with Kurdish President Massoud Barzani yesterday in Davos, Switzerland, according to Reuters.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah Jones in London at sjones35@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Rummer at arummer@bloomberg.net