LONDON, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Britain's Premier Oil reported a 7 percent loss in year-on-year profit after tax on Thursday after a string of production downgrades, saying it had learned from planning mistakes and would improve performance this year.
The North Sea and South East Asian-focused oil and gas explorer expects to pay a 2013 dividend of 5 pence per share, in line with the previous year, and plans to bring four new fields on stream.
Full-year profit after tax fell to $234 million, towards the higher end of analysts estimates, from $252 million the previous year and after impairment charges of $67.9 million due to a temporary shutdown of its Balmoral oil field in the UK.
Shares in Premier Oil were up 1 percent at 0842 GMT at 303 pence.
"It has been frustrating that, despite new production during the year, the portfolio also suffered from some operational issues which were largely beyond the company's control," said Premier Oil Chairman Mike Welton in a statement.
The company heavily misjudged its production target of 75,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) announced in 2012 as its output was just 58,200 boepd last year.
"We have learned the lesson of not planning for the unexpected and have adjusted our expectations accordingly for the future," Welton said.
The company plans to produce 58,000-63,000 boepd this year, with its hopes pinned on new fields in Britain, Norway and the Falklands to add to output.
Its Solan field, in the West of Shetlands, is planned to start production in the fourth quarter of this year.
"2014 production guidance of 58,000-63,000 boepd is conservative," said Numis analyst Sanjeev Bahl as latest production figures already came in higher than expected.
Average production in December was 69,000 boepd, Premier Oil said.
The company continues its search for a replacement of its chief executive Simon Lockett, who will remain in his post until a successor is appointed, Premier Oil said.