Independent oil and gas exploration and production company Dana Petroleum (LSE, DNX) has begun the year as it left off last - producing efficiently and exploring with unerring accuracy.  It is little wonder then that rumours of interest from German utility RWE at around the 1800p mark have recently surfaced. Although no announcement confirming an approach has been forthcoming, Dana’s operational excellence will no doubt be turning the heads of many management teams.    

China’s position at the forefront of the battle against global recession is well known however as is evident by recent US earnings data, the decline in the West is decelerating.  With a recovery very much on track, there has never been a better time for oil producers to step up production and exploration.  So step forward Dana Petroleum. 

The company is pressing ahead with an expansive exploration programme which is even yielding positive news when it is least expected.  Indeed, earlier this year in May the Eitri well, offshore Norway, which is operated by Det Norske produced a minor discovery which provided encouragement for the remaining undrilled prospects in this area.  Dana’s producing Jotun oil field is located nearby and as a result Dana drilling schedules have been brought forward.   

Dana exploration remit spans a number of territories.  The group has 17 exploration and appraisal wells planned for this year in eight countries across Europe and Africa.   

If results in the first half of 2009 are anything to go by, second half exploration should yield positive results.  Already in 2009, there have been a number of valuable new discoveries, with oil found at South East Rinnes, gas condensate at Fulla in Norway, and a gas field discovered with Dana's first well offshore Morocco, at Anchois.  

On the production front, Dana now produces oil and gas from 34 fields in the UK, Egypt, Norway and the Netherlands and remains busy seeking out new opportunities whilst developing its existing asset base.  Management expect average production for 2009 to be around 43,000 barrels per day of oil equivalent and that does not include production from the newly acquired Ettrick field which is due to come on stream at any point.   

Encouragingly, from a financial perspective, Dana stands on very firm ground.  The enthusiasm with which the recent £56 million placing was greeted underscored the widespread confidence in the group’s strategy as well as capital…

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