October 19, 2017 / 8:23 AM / in 2 months

UPDATE 1-Genel confident on Iraqi Kurdistan oil payments despite tensions

* Genel says Kurdistan operations continuing as normal

* Cashflow rises in Q3 with higher oil price, KRG payments

* Net debt down 13 pct at $138 million (Recasts, adds details, CFO comments, background, share price, analyst comment)

By Karolin Schaps

Oct 19 (Reuters) - Genel Energy said it was confident the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq will continue meeting oil export payments despite tensions with the central government following the region’s independence referendum last month.

Genel, one of a handful of foreign oil producers in Iraqi Kurdistan, has seen its share price drop nearly a quarter since the Sept. 25 vote for Kurdish independence from Iraq, which the central government and western powers have opposed.

Iraqi forces have since taken control of some of Kurdistan’s biggest oilfields and operations were interrupted for the first time on Wednesday when oil exports through the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline to Turkey more than halved.

However, Genel said on Thursday its own operations were continuing as normal and that it had not increased security at its sites.

“Our operations continue as usual, staff rotations continue, spare parts are coming in when needed. It’s very much business as usual,” Esa Ikaheimonen, Genel’s newly appointed chief financial officer, told Reuters.

He declined to comment on the status of the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline.

Ikaheimonen said he was confident the KRG would continue meeting payments for oil exports. The payments are Genel’s main source of revenue for oil it produces at the Taq Taq and Tawke oilfields.

In August, Genel and fellow oil producer DNO from Norway struck deals with the KRG to clear outstanding debt and restructure oil export payments.

The companies have since received the first payments under the new structure.

“They’ve (been making payments) flawlessly for two years now and in addition to that they’ve also been extremely cooperative in finding solutions for the settling of problems,” he said.

“That gives us quite a lot of confidence that the desire is there and the commitment is there.”

A slight rise in oil prices, the KRG payments and ongoing revenue from production helped Genel to increase cashflow in the third quarter with unrestricted cash balances at $268 million at the end of September, up from $246 million three months earlier, the company said in a trading update published on Thursday.

This also enabled it to reduce net debt by 13 percent over the quarter to $138 million.

Average output stood at 33,810 barrels per day (bpd) in the quarter, compared with an average of 37,100 bpd in the first half of the year.

Shares in Genel were up 2 percent at 0758 GMT.

“Macro events are likely to remain the major driver of the stock in the near-term,” said analysts at Numis. (Reporting by Karolin Schaps; editing by Jason Neely and Jane Merriman)

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