Exploration and production company Tullow Oil has reported a big jump in profits for last year, helped by higher oil and gas prices.

The company said total sales revenue last year rose by almost 20% to just over $1 billion, while pre-tax profits more than quadrupled from 2009's $33m to $152m.

The results were broadly in line with expectations. Tullow sold its oil at an average price of $78 a barrel last year, up from $60 in 2009, while its gas prices also rose by 7%. Tullow also produced its first oil from the Jubilee field off Ghana. Higher prices made up for a 2% fall in the volume of oil and gas sold.

Chief executive Aidan Heavey said 2010 was a 'transformational' year for the company, and 2011 had started well with increased production from Jubilee. He also said 'good progress' had been achieved towards gaining approval for its development in Uganda, though this had been slow.

Tullow produced a better than expected 58,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day last year, but this is expected to rise to between 86,000 and 92,000 boepd this year, helped by Jubilee.

An unchanged final dividend of four cents per share is to be paid.

Shares in the company closed 4.6% lower at €16.63 in Dublin this evening.