In 2018, Premier aims to produce 80,000 to 85,000 boepd as it ramps up production at Catcher, which produced first oil in December. The field is expected to reach peak gross production of 60,000 boepd in the first half of 2018, and it is currently pumping out 20,000 boepd, ahead of schedule.
Chief executive Tony Durrant said 2017 was a “successful” year for Premier.
“As Catcher builds up to 60,000 bopd, 2018 will bring higher production and cashflow, continuing the debt reduction programme. Alongside this, our portfolio of future projects is being progressed for selective investment and further growth,” he said.
Premier, which was hit hard by the oil price crash in 2014, has worked to cut debt through an ongoing disposal programme following the completion of a refinancing package last year.
At the end of 2017, the company’s net debt was down to $2.7bn (£2bn) from $2.77bn at the end of 2016.
After reaching a 12-month high yesterday, Premier’s shares fell more than seven per cent at today’s market open. At the time of writing, they were trading 1.52 per cent lower at 97p.
Analysts at Jefferies said: “Reaching its plateau target during 1H18 appears well on track and this news more than compensates for lower deleverage during 2017 than expected. The potential for the stock to continue to re-rate on fundamental operational progress remains best in class.”
Premier expects total revenues in 2017 to be around $1.9bn compared to $983m the previous year, reflecting higher production and stronger oil prices.
The firm also said it would book an impairment charge of between $200m and $250m due to reduced reserves at the Solan field in the North Sea.