The Irish oil and gas exploration and production group Tullow Oil has reported a $2 billion loss before tax for the year to December.

The company has also reduced spending on exploration, is suspending its dividend and implementing cost-cutting initiatives. It expects to deliver cash savings of about $500m over the next three years as it deals with the consequences of fallen oil prices. Tullow's loss before tax of $2 billion compared to a profit of $381m the year before. Sales fell by 16% to $2.2 billion. The company's chief executive Aidan Heavy said that 2014 was a difficult year for the industry and a challenging one for Tullow. In response to this, and the global fall in oil prices, it is refocussing its business and spending on low-cost production in West Africa. 

David Holohan, head of research at Merrion Capital, says today's results from Tullow were worse than analysts had expected, despite the fact that the company's problems had been well forecast. Mr Holohan said that Tullow had committed to a large number of big projects, including a big project offshore Ghana. He said work on this will continue and the company had committed about $1.9 billion of capital expenditure on this site. But he says the company is likely to reduce spending on other exploration projects from $800m last year to $200m this year. Mr Holohan says that Africa will remain Tullow's main area of focus as most of its assets are there already and it wants to boost its reserves there. Previous exploration campaigns in South America and Norway failed to identify and develop significant amounts of resources. "Those oil barrels are firmly in Africa," he states. 

Mr Holohan says that Tullow has been linked as a takeover candidate in the exploration space. The fact that its share price has fallen significantly over the last number of years increases the probability that other players may be looking at their assets. Tullow has very high quality reserves in the likes of Kenya and Uganda but the sites are too far away from development with first oil two or three year away.

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MORNING BRIEFS - Smurfit Kappa has today reported a 2% increase in revenues for the year to the end of December, while its pre-tax profits rose by 29%. Its revenues rose to €8.083 billion for the year, while pre-tax profits rose to €378m after what the company called a "solid operating performance".

*** 40% of Irish internet users have got emails or phone calls trying to get access to their computer or personal details like banking information. That is according to the latest Eurobarometer poll on the experience of cybercrime.
Nearly a third of Irish internet users have discovered malicious software on their device, but just over half of them have installed anti-virus software. This compares with an EU average of 61% who have taken this precaution. 16% of Irish Internet users - that is the 3rd highest in the EU -  say they have had experience of their social media or email account being hacked compared to an EU average of 12%. The top concerns of Irish people are misuse of personal data, security of online payments, and online purchases. While Irish people are more aware of cybercrime than the EU average, half of users do not take basic precautions such as changing their passwords every 12 months. While internet access in Ireland has never been higher at 80%, Ireland is behind Sweden (96%) the Netherlands (95%) and Denmark (94%). Lowest access was in Romania (54%), Portugal (55%), and Greece (58%).