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Ophir Energy is hunting for a partner to finance its $500m Fortuna LNG project in Equatorial Guinea Reuters

Oil and gas explorer Ophir Energy says it intends to return to exploration drilling from late 2016 to take advantage of "significantly lower exploration costs".

The firm reported pre-tax loss of $70m (£53m) for the six months ended 30 June compared to a loss of $123m in the same period a year ago.

Revenue slid 40% year-on-year to $52m.

In a statement, Ophir said it would progress its struggling $500m Fortuna gas project in Equatorial Guinea in a way that does not jeopardise its balance sheet.

The British firm has been struggling to find a partner for the venture, with services giant Schlumberger backing out of the plans.

Ophir's net cash on balance sheet shrank to $207m at the end of June from $392m at the same time in 2015.

"Having spent two years high-grading our exploration portfolio, we are now preparing to return to a considered, prudent pace of exploration drilling from late 2016 to take advantage of the significantly lower exploration costs, while continuing to focus on monetising our previous exploration successes," Ophir chief executive Nick Cooper said.

"Ophir will progress the monetisation of Fortuna in a way that protects Ophir's balance sheet, that actively manages our exposure to development risk, and that maximises NAV (net asset value) per share."