* Says unsure when Venezuelan government will approve asset sale
* Fourth-quarter net loss $3.02/share vs $0.59/share year earlier
* Shares fall as much as 10 pct
By Anannya Pramanick and Kanika Sikka
March 17 (Reuters) - Oil and gas producer Harvest Natural Resources Inc said it was not sure when the Venezuelan government would approve the sale of its remaining assets in the country.
Shares of Harvest Natural, which also reported a bigger quarterly loss, fell as much as 10 percent to $3.90 on Monday on the New York Stock Exchange.
The company is in the process of exiting Venezuela by selling its stake in Petrodelta SA - a joint venture with state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA - to Argentinian oil and gas company Pluspetrol for about $400 million.
Harvest Natural’s Venezuelan asset is its only producing asset. The company sold a part of its assets in the country for $125 million in December.
“A lot of that’s (the sale of remaining assets) dependent on the conversation between Pluspetrol and ... the ministry in terms of plans going forward for the asset,” Harvest Natural Chief Executive James Edmiston said on a conference call.
Wunderlich Securities analyst Jason Wangler said Harvest Natural’s shareholders were looking for a more specific comment on the closing of the second Petrodelta transaction.
The money from the first sale boosted the Houston-based company’s financial position, he said. “The liquidity concern was more at the end of last year before this tranche funds came up,” Wangler said.
Harvest Natural used a part of the cash from the first Petrodelta transaction to repay debt and now has no long-term debt, company executives said on the call.
Some of the cash from the transaction was also used to fund exploration work in Gabon, West Africa.
Harvest Natural did not say if it was going to operate in Gabon by itself or get funds from a third party.
The company’s talks to sell its stake in its Gabon assets to Switzerland-based oil trader Vitol SA fell through in November.
Harvest Natural, which has no operations in North America, has discontinued its operations in Oman and Colombia, and said on Monday it was in talks to sell its stake in a block located on the Indonesian island of West Sulawesi.
The company is also unable to operate in the South China Sea due to a border dispute between China and Vietnam.
Harvest Natural posted a bigger fourth-quarter loss after taking two charges related to sale of assets in Venezuela.
The net loss attributable to the company widened to $112.7 million, or $3.02 per share, in the quarter ended Dec. 31 from $23.1 million, or 59 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding the charges related to the sale of assets in Venezuela and an exploration charge, Harvest Natural posted a loss of 36 cents per share.
Two analysts on average were expecting a profit of 10 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Harvest Natural’s shares were down 5.8 percent at $4.09 in late afternoon trading. The company has lost nearly a quarter of its market value over the past year.