UPDATE 2-Afren's profit triples, shifts focus to Kurdistan
* FY pretax profit $221 mln vs $79 mln last yr
* 2011 exit rate about 50,000 boepd
* Barda Rash field in Kurdistan to start production in August
* To produce 10,000-15,000 barrels per day by year-end
By Brenton Cordeiro
March 27 (Reuters) - Afren said its full-year profit nearly tripled, benefiting from a key oil field in Nigeria, and all eyes are now on the British oil firm's field in Kurdistan that is expected to start production in August.
The Barda Rash field in Kurdistan in Iraq, in which Afren acquired a 60 percent interest last year, should produce 10,000 to 15,000 barrels per day by the end of the year, Chief Executive Osman Shahenshah told Reuters.
The company, whose main producing assets are in Nigeria, expanded in the Middle East last year when it bought stakes in two Kurdistan operations for $588 million.
"We have only 19 percent of our resources either in production or under development so there's major upside," the CEO said. The company targets 100,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day by 2017, he said.
"Acquisitions are much less important than they have been in the past."
The company said it was on track for producing 42,000 to 46,000 boepd in 2012.
Afren's 2011 exit rate was about 50,000 boepd. Ebok oil field in Nigeria produced 8,023 boepd.
Afren's pretax profit in 2011 rose to $221 million from $79 million a year earlier.
"With a number of key catalysts likely to unlock significant upside from a multi-well drilling programme spanning Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Kurdistan, there is potential for momentum to start building again," Singer Capital Markets' Simon Hawkins said.
The company's shares, which have gained about 45 percent since the beginning of this year, were up 3 percent at 135 pence at 0952 GMT on Tuesday on the London Stock Exchange.
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