Monument bullish on Asian oil plan

John Willcock

Monument Oil & Gas, the independent oil company, yesterday said its plans to explore and export oil from Turkmenistan, a country bordering Iran and the Caspian Sea, were progressing well.

However, shares in the group eased 0.75p to 85.25p as the group reported weaker-than- expected half-year results.

Tony Craven Walker, Monument's chairman, said talks were going well with the government of Turkmenistan and Mobil over a drilling venture that is already yielding 1,000 barrels of light oil a day. "Field operations have commenced in Turkmenistan and we hope to reach an early conclusion to negotiations aimed at increasing our investment in the region," Mr Craven Walker said.

The group announced operating profits up 134 per cent to pounds 15.4m for the half-year to 30 June. There was a smaller increase in profits after tax of 15 per cent to pounds 7.9m, reflecting the fact that Monument stopped capitalising interest on its new development in Liverpool Bay.

Monument also said it had two significant initiatives planned for Algeria and Pakistan in the second half of 1997.

"The figures were just a bit weaker than expected, but the shares came off ahead of the results," said one market-maker.

John Besant-Jones, an analyst with ABN Amro Hoare Govett, said the figures were "probably a little disappointing" although he added the start-up costs at Liverpool Bay made it difficult to judge. The statement on the Turkmenistan talks was "quite positive for the shares".