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The oil exploration partnerships controled by Jackob Maimon promptly released their annual financial reports yesterday, showing that although they were all posting losses, the losses were for the "wrong reasons." The four partnerships - Isramco Negev, INOC Dead Sea, Naphtha and Modiin - attributed their losses to poor performances from their securities portfolios (losses of NIS 55 million), and management and general expenses (NIS 7 million).

As for their core activity of oil exploration, the partnerships invested remarkably small sums. Out of a total portfolio of NIS 530 million, the partnerships invested only NIS 3 million in exploration in 2002.

Isramco fared the worst of the bunch, reporting losses of NIS 40 million. The partnership blamed much of its woes on the real loss deriving from the 6.5 percent increase in the consumer price index during the accounting year; although Isramco Negev managed to end the fourth quarter of 2002 in the black, for the first time in a year.

The story was pretty much the same throughout the group. INOC Dead Sea lost NIS 9 million; Naphtha dropped NIS 8 million; and Modiin saw NIS 1.8 million in losses.

Isramco demonstrates the group's behavior best of all, with a securities portfolio of almost NIS 500 million, and an investment in oil exploration of NIS 2 million - a far far cry from the NIS 27 million in 2001 and the NIS 25 million in 2000. Naphtha invested NIS 3.7 million in exploration in 2001, but this plummeted to only NIS 340,000 last year.

Perhaps, however, the partnerships are planning a comeback. Isramco's plans for 2003 include drilling at the Nir reservoir, under the Med Ashdod license, at a cost of $10 million. In 2004, it plans to drill to Jurassic layers at a depth of 5,300 meters, with a total investment of $35 million. Isramco has not made a final decision on if or when to carry out verification drills.