Exploration firm Tullow Oil has reported an operating profit of $381m for 2013, a 68% fall on the year before but ahead of a consensus forecast of $349.7m. 

The fall in profits was a result of lower profits from disposals compared to 2012 and a higher exploration write-off, already flagged in an update in January. 

Sales revenue for the year rose by 13% to $2.647 billion from $2.344 billion in 2012 while its pre-tax profit slumped 72% to $313m from $1.116 billion.

Tullow said today that it was proposing a final dividend of eight pence per share, unchanged from last year's dividend.

The company also announced today that a well off the coast of Mauritania opened a new oil area in the West African country, despite the first drilling not finding hydrocarbons in commercial quantities. 

Analysts had been keenly awaiting the result of the Fregate-1 well and had said a positive result would be a major boost for the company after a string of disappointing drilling results last year.

Tullow said that Fregate-1 had encountered up to 30 metres of gas condensate and oil in multiple sands.

Commenting on the company's results, its CEO Aidan Heavey said that Tullow delivered another year of exploration and appraisal success and production growth and made significant progress with its key developments in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda which will deliver major increases in cash flow over the next three to five years. 

"An ambitious exploration and appraisal programme is planned for 2014 which is targeting opportunities in our core plays in Africa and the Atlantic margins," he said.

"We are well placed for an exciting year of growth in 2014 with an enviable portfolio of assets and opportunities," the CEO added.