Premier Oil plc : Overview

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Premier Oil plc

Industry Areas: Oil and gas exploration, development and production.


Market share / importance

Premier Oil is a relatively small company devoted entirely to the 'upstream' sector of the industry - the exploitation of oil and gas - as opposed to the 'downstream' refining and retail sector. The company has 445 employees and a sales of £99.4 million (US$ 136.35 million) in 2000 [1].

History [2]

Premier Oil was first registered in the UK in 1934 (then as the Caribbean Oil Company) to exploit oil and gas in Trinidad.

Premier Oil acquired its first interest in the North Sea in 1971. In 1977 it gained further access to the UK continental shelf as well as properties in Sudan and West Africa by merging with Ball and Collins North Sea Consortium. Its 12.5% share in the onshore oil field at Wytch Farm in Dorset acquired in 1984 (and the subsequent offshore extension of this field) is still making an important contribution to the revenues.

Premier Oil has been established in Burma since 1990 (and insists on referring to the country as Myanmar, the name given by its military dictatorship). In 1992 the Yetagun Gas Field was discovered there and gas sales to Thailand from that field started in May 2000. Since then offshore facilities have been constructed in the Gulf of Martaban, 124 miles off the west coast of Burma and a 168 mile long pipeline has been constructed to the Thai border. This $650 million project is Premier Oil's biggest (Premier's stake in it is estimated to $200 million) and is expected to yield gas for the coming 20 years.

In 1995 Premier Oil acquired Pict Petroleum. As part of this deal, Amerada Hess (previously part-owner of Pict) came to hold 25% of Premier Oil's enlarged equity.

In 1996 Premier oil acquired Sumatra Gulf Oil Ltd and Discovery Petroleum in Indonesia, giving them a majority interest in the Natuna Sea Block A (including the Anoa oil field).

In 1998, Premier and Shell created a joint venture company to in Pakistan which is now involved in 11 concessions and five significant gas fields. In May 2001, Shell pulled out of this project (further information in Corporate Crimes below).

Premier Oil is aiming to establishing itself as a leading independent oil & gas production company in Asia through strategic partnerships with Petronas and Amerada Hess [3].


[1] Premier Oil, Annual Report & Accounts 2000

[2] Most of the information is in this section is gathered from 'Our History' at Premier Oil's homepage:

[3] See 'Alliance' at Premier Oil's homepage,