August 26, 2010 / 6:49 AM / 7 years ago

UPDATE 2-Salamander Energy eyes Asia expansion - CEO

* Sees FY10 capex at $110 mln vs 2009’s $120 mln

* H1 average daily production up 25 pct to 16,000 boepd

* H1 adj pretax profit $11.8 mln vs loss $5.8 mln yr ago

* H1 revenue up 73 pct to $133.5 mln

* Shares up 1.5 pct (Recasts, adds CEO comments, updates stock movement)

By Anirban Sen

BANGALORE, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Salamander Energy SMDR.L is looking to expand further in Asia through acquisitions and farm-in deals, its CEO said, after swinging to a first-half adjusted profit on higher production and crude oil prices CLc1.

“Asia remains an excellent place to invest ... we’re looking to pick up more exploration acreage both organically and through farm-ins,” Chief Executive James Menzies said in a conference call with reporters.

Menzies said the company sees potential expansion in South Asia -- from India all the way through Papua New Guinea.

“We’re not investing in Myanmar and we don’t see the Phillipines as having a lot of opportunities, but outside of that we’re pretty open-minded,” he said.

Salamander expects its capital expenditure to dip to about $110 million this year from $120 million in fiscal 2009, Menzies told Reuters separately. First-half capex was just $13 million.

“Our next phase of development on Bualuang (field in the B8/38 licence in the Gulf of Thailand) will be at the back-end of the year, so that will take a large chunk of our budget,” Menzies said by telephone.

The Asia-focused oil and gas explorer, which owns assets in Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand, also expects to boost production further after closing its acquisition of the B8/38 licence. It agreed last month to acquire from Soco International (SIA.L) the 40 percent interest in the block it did not already own. [ID:nSGE66J092]

Salamander forecast average production for the rest of 2010 to rise to 20,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) after completing the Thai deal. For the second half to date, the company has averaged about 19,000 boepd.

Salamander, which competes with Coastal Energy CEO.L, posted a 25 percent rise in average daily production to 16,000 boepd in the first half.

January-June adjusted pretax profit was $11.8 million, compared with a loss of $5.8 million a year earlier. The adjusted profit excludes one-off impairment charges of $61 million and exploration write-offs of $41.1 million.

Revenue rose 73 percent to $133.5 million.

Earlier on Thursday, British explorers Premier Oil (PMO.L) and Soco unveiled mixed results despite higher oil prices, and flagged potentially transformational drilling plans for the second half. [ID:nLDE67P0I7]

Salamander shares, which have lost a quarter of their value so far this year after a string of drilling disappointments, were up 1.5 percent at 218.3 pence at 1050 GMT on the London Stock Exchange. The Stoxx European oil and gas sector index .SXEP was up 1 percent. (Reporting by Anirban Sen in Bangalore, Editing by Ian Geoghegan)

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