Africa-focused exploration company Tullow Oil has today posted its first annual post-tax profit in five years.

It said it would resume dividends with a 4.8% share payout as it sets its sights on East African projects and drilling in Guyana. 

As flagged in November, Tullow will pay out at least $100m to shareholders from this year while aiming to shrink its $3.1 billion debt pile and ramp up spending to $570m at the same time. 

The largest chunk of that money will help boost output in Ghana which in turn sets Tullow on course to raise output to 102,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boed) this year from 90,000 boed. 

Tullow made a post-tax profit of $85m on $1.9 billion in revenue last year buoyed by higher oil prices and cost discipline. 

A $208m payment after selling a stake in its Uganda onshore fields to Total was delayed last year because the country asked for more tax on the deal than expected. 

Tullow today said it had now agreed on the principles of the tax arrangement.

It also plans to give the final go-ahead on its Ugandan project in mid-year and Kenya by year-end. 

Milestones to pass first include financing arrangements for two pipelines planned to carry oil from the onshore fields to the Indian Ocean coast. 

In Uganda, Tullow anticipates finalising commercial and land agreements in the first half. 

In Kenya, the company said it expects commercial framework agreements from the government and deals over land acquisition for the 800 km pipeline in the first quarter. 

In Guyana, Tullow plans to drill the Jethro prospect in the second quarter as the first of two planned wells on the Orinduik block. 

It hedged just under 60,000 bopd for 2019 at a floor price of $56.24 per barrel and 25,000 bopd of its 2020 production $59 a barrel.