Natixis raised ATP Oil & Gas Corp to buy from hold and increased its price target, saying Telemark project in Gulf of Mexico is expected to more than double the company's 2009 average production rate. The brokerage also added that Telemark production stream is composed of about 75 percent crude oil, which is likely to attract investors. As crude oil prices have averaged about $76 per barrel thus far in fourth quarter of 2009, more crude production for ATP should be doubly beneficial, analyst Curtis Trimble wrote in a note to clients.

Activities at the Titan production facility at Mississippi, through which ATP will produce the wells composing the Telemark project, are expected to conclude in time for Telemark to contribute to first quarter of 2010 production, Trimble added.

Cheviot located in UK North Sea, the largest property in ATP's portfolio in terms of reserves, continues to be on track for 2012 first production, the analyst said.

The analyst, who increased the price target to $22 from $18, said oil prices and out-sized production growth expectations are likely to outpace comparable-company metrics, and he expects ATP shares to receive a premium to this peer group in 2010.

Shares of the company were up 3 percent at $16.41 Friday afternoon on Nasdaq. (Reporting by Thyagaraju Adinarayan in Bangalore; Editing by Anil D'Silva)