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Senex Energy eyes more hedging gains

Junior oil and gas producer Senex Energy has suffered a 36 per cent fall in December quarter sales revenue to $18.


1 million, as its numbers were hit by a slump in oil prices.

But the company has been largely shielded from the falls by a strong hedging position.

Compared to the September quarter, however, its revenue dipped just four per cent despite crude oil prices declining 11 per cent in the three-month period, with the company benefiting from hedging gains and a lower Australian dollar.

Under its current hedging contract, Brisbane-based Senex is guaranteed an average Brent crude floor price of $A75 a barrel for one million barrels of oil sales over the 2016 financial year.

Crude oil prices tumbled 35 per cent in 2015, and this week slid further to a 13-year low of $US26.30 a barrel.

“We are actively monitoring the market to take out further hedging contracts for FY17 and beyond,” chief financial officer Graham Yerbury told an analysts call on Thursday.

The company’s production and sales volumes dropped by more than a quarter to 0.26 million barrels of oil equivalent (mmboe), but were largely flat on the previous quarter.

Senex, which has operations in Queensland’s Surat Basin and the Cooper Basin in South Australia, expects to achieve its FY 2016 production guidance of 1.0 to 1.2 mboe.

The company said it has strengthened its financial position after signing a large gas sales deal with Santos’s GLNG venture in Queensland in September. It currently holds $100 million in cash.

Despite its cash-rich position, managing director Ian Davies told analysts the company was holding back capital expenditure plans in the current low price environment.

In August, the oil and gas producer nearly halved its capital expenditure guidance for 2015/16 to $35 million to $45 million, and says it will spend only where critical.

It expects to achieve its production guidance of 1.0 to 1.2 mmboe for the financial year.

Senex Energy shares closed 0.5 cents, or 4.2 per cent higher at 12.5 cents.


Crews battle 70 fires across Tasmania

A rapidly growing fire at Lake McKenzie that could threaten homes and bushwalkers is worrying Tasmanian firefighters as about 70 fires burn across the state.


The fire in Tasmania’s north has more than tripled to 7000 hectares since starting only two days ago in hot and dry conditions.

Tasmanian Fire Service regional fire controller Steve Richardson said Thursday’s weather was making conditions particularly difficult for firefighters.

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“If it comes down off the plateau in any sort of hurry, it could throw a lot of ash and embers causing spot fires,” he told AAP on Thursday.

Firefighters are also battling large blazes in the same region at Patons Road, February Plains and Cradle Mountain.

They’re aiming to protect homes and bushwalkers, while the region is also a world-renowned hiking area and holds some Hydro Tasmania electricity assets.

The fire service, Parks and Wildlife and Forestry have been sweeping the area to get bushwalkers and people fishing out of there, Mr Richardson said, with some tracks closed.

The towns considered most under threat if the fires keep growing include northern towns Mayberry, Mole Creek, Caveside, Dairy Plains and Meander.

Mr Richardson said tall timbers and very dry air were making firefighting tough.

“Combined with active fire behaviour (it) makes it extremely difficult for our crews to undertake any form of direct attack on the fires,” he said.

Of the 70 fires across the state, 60 are in the northwest – including the largest at 16,000ha – while 44 are out of control with many too dangerous and inaccessible to tackle.

A total fire ban has been declared on Thursday for the northwest including Launceston, Devonport, King Island, the west coast and northern midlands where temperatures are due to reach beyond 30C.

The weather is expected to be warm but more favourable for firefighters in the next few days.

“Over the next few days, houses are defendable providing you are well prepared,” said a Tasmania Fire Service spokesman.

“If you are not prepared or your home is not prepared, the only way we can guarantee your safety is not be in those fire-affected areas.”


Oz Minerals flies on record production

Copper and gold producer OZ Minerals has posted record production for 2015, even as global peers freeze expansions amid a commodities slump.


The miner hauled in 32,636 tonnes of copper in the December quarter, helping it exceed a target to produce 130,305 tonnes in 2015.

Total gold production for 2015 was 113,028 ounces, much better than the 100,000-110,000 ounces it had forecast.

The company said its Prominent Hill mine in South Australia was generating significant cash flows and the group’s recent focus on driving costs down had put it in a strong position.

“We’ve had a record year of production and even with the current state of commodity prices, Prominent Hill is generating very significant cash flows with healthy margins,” managing director Andrew Cole said.

“This sets us up for another strong year in 2016.”

Shares in the company jumped on the strong performance, with the stock trading nearly 9.0 per cent higher at $3.80, by 1400 AEDT, before fading slightly to close 6.6 per cent higher at $3.73.

Copper miners have been hurt by a slump in prices to multi-year lows, although a weaker Australian dollar has cushioned the impact for local miners.

OZ Minerals’ 2015 copper output was nearly 40 per cent higher than the previous year, with the company saying its processing plant had been operating up to 25 per cent above its official capacity.

Its cost of production also came in at the bottom end of its US 70 to 80 cents-per pound guidance.

“They have been very impressive in reigning in costs. They have also been able to hit the higher grades of copper and gold at the mine,” optionXpress market analyst Ben LeBrun said.

He said investors are keenly awaiting the company’s next big decision, as it considers developing its Carrapateena copper deposit in South Australia.

Last October, private equity firm KKR & Co bought a 10 per cent stake in OZ Minerals, saying the company was undervalued.


Vic campaign to attract foster carers

Victoria is desperately seeking foster carers to take hundreds of children out of residential care.


A 2015 report found a child in residential care was sexually assaulted every day on average, and the Children’s Commissioner called for half the 500 children in care to be taken out.

Children’s Minister Jenny Mikakos said targeted care packages had helped get the numbers down.

“To this point about 74 children have actually been removed out of residential care into home-based care options, foster care, as well as living with family members through kinship care, or even returning back home,” Ms Mikakos told AAP on Thursday.

A $3.2 million recruitment campaign for foster carers is highlighting the options people have to make a huge difference in a child’s life.

Louise Gilbert and her husband have been respite carers for eight months, looking after eight-and-nine-year-old siblings every second weekend and in school holidays – and they’re loving it.

“We met a girl at a barbecue who was doing some foster care and she told us about her experience. We just thought it makes sense, let’s do it,” Ms Gilbert told AAP.

“A lot of people don’t realise you don’t have to be a foster carer full time.

“You can do it on weekends, you can do it on an emergency basis, or longer term if you want.”

Ms Mikakos said Victoria needed foster carers from diverse backgrounds, same-sex couples, single people, retirees, working families and many others.

“You don’t need to be a superhero to be a foster carer,” she said.

“You just need to have an open mind and open home.”

A $31.4 million fund to boost care allowances came into effect on January 1.


MS Dhoni shoulders blame for India loss

Not only did India help hand Australia a fourth straight one-day victory, they also gave them a taste of what’s to come in their upcoming Twenty20 battles.


That’s according to MS Dhoni.

The skipper shouldered much of the blame for his side’s loss in Canberra on Wednesday, after falling for a duck.

The visitors were cruising towards the 349 target set by Australia, until opener Shikhar Dhawan was dismissed on 126 in the 38th over by John Hastings.

It ended a stunning 212-run partnership with Virat Kohli and was the first of nine wickets lost for just 46 runs.

While Dhoni said pressure got to his more inexperienced charges, he felt his dismissal was the turning point.

Dhoni had elevated himself to No.4 and pushed Ajinkya Rahane down the order to give him time to recover from a hand injury that required stitches earlier in the day.

The defeat leaves India 4-0 down in the five-game series, but the captain said his team would not be despondent.

“We lost. Are we disappointed? Definitely we’re disappointed,” he said.

“But you want to take the positives. If we had batted better than what we did after the 38th over, when I lost my wicket, this game could have ended in the 46th or 47th over.

“You look at it that way. You don’t want to sink into something negative.

“After the first three losses people were saying it’s going to be difficult to come back, but in this game I thought we batted really well.

“It also gives a glimpse of what you’ll see in the Twenty20s – a lot of flamboyant cricket.”

India and Australia play three T20s in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney following this Saturday’s final ODI at the SCG.