Oil Search is pushing on several growth options that may see debt levels rise further, ahead of the cash flowing from the $19 billion Papua New Guinea gas export project in which it holds a large stake.
Initial shipments from the 6.9 million tonnes-a-year project will take place in 2014, although Oil Search has refused to indicate the number of shipments, saying only that it will run at peak capacity from 2015.
Exxon-Mobil is the operator of the Oil Search gas export project with a one-third interest, while Oil Search has a 29 per cent share.
Some of the initial cash from the gas export project will go to lenders, which may limit its initial options.
Commissioning of the first phase of the gas export project was "imminent", Oil Search managing director Peter Botten said, with the two-phase project now 90 per cent completed.
Capital management will start in 2015, once the project reaches financial completion. The aim was to get "the balance of growth investment and capital management right".
"We have a range of highly attractive growth projects," Mr Botten said.
These span prospective oilfields in PNG and the Kurdistan region of Iraq, and other PNG gas fields.