AMSTERDAM, Aug 5 (Reuters) - SBM Offshore, the Dutch oil and gas platform leasing company, reported better than expected first-half profit on Wednesday after slashing costs and said it would double annual savings at a time of low oil prices.
SBM Offshore, which has said it will cut 1,500 staff, or more than 10 percent of its global workforce, expects annual savings of about $80 million compared with previous guidance of $40 million.
It also increased its 2015 revenue forecasts to $2.6 billion, from $2.2 billion, mainly due to the $590 million sale of a stake in its Turritella project in the Gulf Of Mexico to new joint venture partners Mitsubishi Corporation and NYK Line.
SBM Offshore, which generates roughly 60 percent of its revenue in Brazil, has cut staff following a sharp reduction in investment by the oil and gas industry as the oil price has slumped.
In the first half of 2015, revenue slipped 9 percent to $1.57 billion, while earnings before interest and taxation (EBIT) swung to a profit of $255 million from a loss of $41 million a year earlier, it said.
Analysts polled for Reuters had expected EBIT of $159 million and an average 29 percent drop in sales to $1.2 billion.
Its order backlog fell to $20 billion at the end of June 2015 from $21.8 billion at the end of 2014. Net debt rose in the six-month period to $3.6 billion, from $3.3 billion a year earlier, it said.
SBM Offshore last year settled a bribery investigation with Dutch authorities for $240 million and is still in discussions with authorities in Brazil, where Dutch prosecutors said its sales agents paid around $150 million in bribes to government officials to secure lucrative contracts with the state oil company, Petrobras.
SBM Offshore said on Wednesday it was still in talks and that "progress in discussions with Brazilian authorities continues". (Reporting By Anthony Deutsch; editing by Susan Thomas)