January 23, 2018 / 11:22 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Santos' quarterly revenue jumps on higher oil prices

(Adds details, sales forecast and share movement)

Jan 24 (Reuters) - Santos Ltd, Australia’s second-largest independent gas and oil producer, on Wednesday posted a 14.3 percent rise in fourth-quarter revenue as it benefited from higher oil and gas prices.

The result was boosted by a 28.4 percent rise in average selling prices. Higher revenue, along with sharp cost cuts, helped Santos cut net debt to $2.7 billion from $3.5 billion a year ago.

The company aims to reduce net debt to $2 billion by the end of 2019.

The company, which rejected a A$9.5 billion takeover offer in August, said revenue for the quarter ended Dec. 31 rose to $861 million from $753 million a year earlier.

This beat analysts’ forecasts of $832 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Santos shares added 2.5 percent to A$5.31 in early trade, in a broader market up around 0.2 percent.

Fourth-quarter sales volumes and production remained flat at 21.8 million barrels of oil equivalent (mmboe) and 15 mmboe, respectively, Santos said in statement.

Santos maintained its production forecast range for 2018 of 55 mmboe to 60 mmboe, and provided 2018 sales volumes guidance of 72 mmboe to 78 mmboe.

The Adelaide-based company said in November it expects to hold gas output steady over the next several years, with growth to kick off in 2023 from projects in northern Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Santos has a stake in the prized Papua New Guinea LNG project, run by ExxonMobil Corp, making it a takeover target by private equity-backed Harbour Energy, whose offer it rebuffed as too cheap.

Reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin

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