The oil producer said crude output from West Africa also beat expectations, measuring an average of 89,100 barrels per day (including insurance payments equivalent to 7,400 bopd from the Jubilee field). European operations yielded an average of 5,600 barrels oil equivalent.
"Tullow delivered strong operational and financial performance in 2017 against the backdrop of continued industry volatility,” said Paul McDade, Tullow chief executive.
“There was also material improvement in the group's balance sheet, with significantly reduced gearing and an overall reduction in net debt of $1.3bn.
Positive momentum seen continuing into 2018
“Over 2018 we expect to continue this positive momentum,” McDade added.
“With our diverse low-cost assets and high-graded exploration portfolio, enhanced by recent licence additions in Côte d'Ivoire and Peru, we have a strong foundation to grow the business and further reduce our debt."
Tullow forecasts 2018 production between 82,000 and 90,000 bopd with 3,500 to 4,500 boepd anticipated from gas - putting overall group guidance at 86,000 to 95,000 boepd for the year.
For the financial year ended 31 December 2017, the company expects to report US$1.7bn of total revenue, with gross profit anticipated at around US$800mln.
Capital spending amounted to around US$250mln in 2017, and next year it is expected to increase significantly to US$460mln although most of that (almost 80%) will be spent of development work rather than exploration and appraisal.
Net debt stood at US$3.5bn at the end of December, and Tullow had headroom and free cash of around US$1bn.
Tullow’s turned a corner after “near death” experience
“After the near death experience of early 2016, Tullow looks like it’s turned a corner,” said Nicholas Hyett, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.
“Falling debt and new borrowing facilities have given the group extra breathing space, while increasing production and a healthier oil price environment means more money is coming through the door.
While the group has kept a tight grip on spending, improved conditions means Tullow is renewing its focus on exploration and development. It’s an area where the group has an excellent track record, and recent progress in East Africa bodes well.”
By around 9:45, Tullow Oil shares were up 5.1p or 2.235% changing hands at 226.5p.