Dana Gas posts net loss of $186m for 2018 as impairment charges mount

The UAE firm is looking to develop concessions in Egypt and boost production in Iraqi Kurdistan this year

Patrick Allman-Ward, chief executive officer of Dana Gas PJSC, speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. World leaders, influential executives, bankers and policy makers attend the 47th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos from Jan. 17 - 20. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
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Sharjah-based energy firm Dana Gas swung to a net loss for the full-year 2018 as impairments on ageing assets in Egypt and the UAE bit into profitability.

The company reported a loss of $186 million (Dh681m) for the 12-month period ending 31 December, compared with a net profit of $83m recorded at the end of 2017, it said in a statement to Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, where its shares are traded. Dana's net profit before Impairments came in at $64m, it said.

Revenue for the period, however, climbed 4 per cent higher to $470m on the back of higher realised prices and incremental production from its Kurdish assets during the the fourth quarter of last year.

The vast majority of the company’s impairment losses stemmed from steep loss of production at the Zora field in the UAE, which is expected to stop production this year, Dana Gas chief executive Patrick Allman-Ward told reporters on an earnings call. Impairment on the field represented $187m and $59m on its assets in Egypt out of the the total $250m provision, he added.

The field, which began operation in 2016 and originally designed to produce at 40 million standard cubic feet per day, was able to only achieve half of that level and currently produces around 6 million cf/d.

"After exhaustive subsurface analysis, it was established that the production performance was derived from poor reservoir quality and connectivity, which was not something which could have been predicted beforehand,” said Mr Allman-Ward.

The company, which operates concessions in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region as well as in Egypt has delivered its first dividend to shareholders, which include Blackrock, the world’s largest asset manager. The UAE company last year resolved a protracted legal dispute with its creditors over a sukuk and also managed to receive substantial payments from both the Kurdish and Egyptian governments.

"We delivered, a 30 per cent increase in gas production from the KRI (Kurdistan region of Iraq) de-bottlenecking project, which will increase revenues by $50m on an annualised basis, we made large saving from restructuring the [outstanding] sukuk, we achieved higher collections and the company paid its first dividend,” Mr Allman-Ward said in a statement to the Abu Dhabi bourse.

Gross profit for the year rose 19 per cent to $140m on the back of strong operational performance.

Dana Gas is looking to more than double the production from the Kurdish assets operated as part of Pearl Consortium and plans to raise output by 500 million cubic feet per day of gas over three years from the current 400 million cf/d.

Around 250 cf/d of the additional production will be absorbed domestically to meet power demand while the remainder will be targeted for export either to Turkey or to the Iraqi federal government, according to Mr Allman-Ward.

Dana Gas plans to bridge a gap in transportation to Turkey by employing a common use pipeline operated by Russia’s Rosneft or building its own infrastructure to link around 100 kilometres from Erbil to the border, he added.

The company is also eyeing potential development of a massive gas resource base in Egypt, which could require up to $5 billion in investment. Dana Gas will drill the first exploration well in the Block 6 offshore area in April, which could hold up to 20 trillion cubic feet of gas. The cost for the initial exploration well was $59m. Should the reservoir prove successful, the company would invite partners to join the development, for which a final investment decision could be taken around 2023, Mr Allman-Ward noted.