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Ophir Rises on Plan to Sell Tanzania Assets: London Mover

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Oct. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Ophir Energy Plc, a U.K. oil and gas explorer in Africa, jumped the most in seven months in London after saying it began talks to sell assets in Tanzania.

Ophir rose 9.1 percent, the biggest gain since March 5, to 326.70 pence. It was the best performer on the Stoxx Europe 600 Oil & Gas Index. The company “has a process ongoing to sell down a part-interest” in Tanzania’s Blocks 1, 3 and 4, the London-based explorer said today in a statement. “There is no certainty that this process will conclude successfully.”

Ophir has been seeking partners to share costs in Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya and Tanzania after exploration was slower than forecast. While drilling delays have weighed on its stock, the company and project operator BG Group Plc have now found enough gas to start building a liquefied natural gas plant in Tanzania, helping to meet growing fuel demand in Asia.

India’s Financial Express reported earlier that Ophir may sell some of its Tanzanian assets to GAIL India Ltd. The New Delhi-based gas-marketing company may buy 10 percent to 30 percent stakes in five blocks for at least $600 million, the newspaper said, citing an unidentified official at GAIL.

Ophir Chief Executive Officer Nick Cooper wasn’t immediately available to comment.

The report is “positive,” FirstEnergy Capital LLP said in an e-mailed note. “Any clarity on the agreement of a definitive farm-out will be welcomed by investors.”

Ophir holds 40 percent stakes in Blocks 1, 3 and 4, where BG Group is the operator with a 60 percent interest. Ophir has declined 26 percent this year in London.

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

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