UK-based oil and gas firm Premier Oil has announced its full-year results for 2018, reporting a post-tax profit hike to $133.4m as a result of record production.

These full-year results are a ‘return to profitability’ from 2017’s full-year loss of $253.8m.

Premier Oil’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and exploration (EBITDAX) increased by 50% to $882.3m, from 2017’s EBITDAX of $589.7m. Cash flow from operations increased by 64% to $777.2m.

The company attributes this profit to new production from the Catcher Area in the North Sea and continued high operating efficiency across its portfolio. This increased activity boosted Premier Oil’s production to 80,500 barrels of oil per day (boepd), an increase from 2017’s 75,000boepd.

Premier Oil achieved first oil from the Catcher Area Project in January 2018.

Premier Oil CEO Tony Durrant said: “2018 saw higher production, positive free cash flow and a return to profitability. The Group is ahead of plans to restore balance sheet strength and remains focused on consistently delivering free cash flows.

“Growth projects such as Tolmount, Zama and Sea Lion, together with promising exploration in Mexico and Indonesia, are being advanced within a disciplined financial framework.”

The company is forecasting production of 75,000boepd, a 5% increase on 2018 after disposals. Project sanctions for additions in the Catcher Area, the Catcher North and Laverda fields are expected for the first half of 2019.

Premier Oil plans to submit a formal loan application for the Sea Lion project in the Falkland Islands in the second quarter of 2019. The company also expects to complete appraisal programmes for the Zama field offshore Mexico and the Tolmount East field in the North Sea in the third quarter of this year.