Range raises $3.8m sign-on fee
RANGE Resources is set to receive a previously undisclosed sign-on bonus believed to be worth $US3 million to $US7 million ($3.8 million-$8.9 million) as part of its joint venture deal with a Canadian company to explore for oil and gas in Somalia's Puntland state.
Range director Peter Landau, who visited Puntland last week, said it would share a portion of the funds with the government of the semi-autonomous state.
He said Range should receive the payment from Toronto Venture Exchange-listed exploration company Canmex Minerals within a few weeks. Under the farm-in deal, Canmex has six years to spend $US50 million on oil and gas exploration on Range's tenements in Puntland, in return for an 80 per cent stake in the project.
Range is retaining the mineral rights and offshore petroleum exploration rights as part of its 2005 deal, giving it exclusive exploration rights over the entire Puntland state.
Mr Landau said the fact there was a sign-on bonus in the joint venture deal was kept confidential because the final amount had not been finalised.
Earlier in the week, Calgary-based Canmex president Rick Schmitt told the Herald he "didn't want to even go close to telling what the commercial arrangements were" although he said the fee would be a material amount for Range and his company, which has a $C60 million ($55 million) market value.
Canmex had $C3.5 million cash and $C3.3 million in term deposits on hand at the end of September. Mr Schmitt said his company was confident it could raise the funds needed for the $US50 million exploration program. He cited the backing of Canmex's 13.6 per cent shareholder, Abalone Capital, which is linked to Sweden's Lundin Petroleum. Lundin, which has a market value of about $4.2 billon, is listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange
Mr Landau cited the importance of Lundin's experience as a top explorer of "difficult countries" such as Iran, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and apartheid-era South Africa, as being key to the deal with Canmex.
But Range has not mentioned Canmex's link with Lundin in any of its statements to the Australian Stock Exchange. "We don't think it's relevant," Mr Landau said. "For us, the importance is the relationship with Canmex."
He said some investors would have been made aware of the Lundin-Canmex relationship through a story posted on subscription website Africa Intelligence last year.
Range is planning a dual-listing on London's Alternative Investment Market within the next two to three months. The listing will include a $US20 million capital raising, which Mr Landau said would be put towards buying out former partner Consort Private and further mineral and offshore petroleum exploration in Puntland.
The state has proven lead and zinc provinces but Mr Landau said Range would also look for uranium, which has so far only been found in the war-torn southern region of Somalia.
Despite the large joint venture deal, Range shares fell 0.1c to 3.2c after the announcement on Tuesday and closed at 3.4c on Thursday on volume of 26 million shares.
White Nile to Ink Oil Exploration Deal
Jan 15, 2008 (Addis Fortune/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) -- WTNLF | news | White Nile Ltd., a British company quoted by Alternative Investment Market (AIM), will be signing an oil exploration agreement with the Ethiopian government next Tuesday, January 15, 2008, officials at the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MoME) disclosed to Fortune.
White Nile's founder and Chairman, Philippe H. Edmonds, is expected to arrive in Addis Abeba, in order to sign the exploration agreement with Alemayehu Tegenu, minister of Mines and Energy, at the Sheraton Addis.
The deal will grant White Nile exploration rights over a 29,000Km area in Southern Omo and Borena - Southern Rift Basin - in Oromia and Southern regional states. The Council of Ministers has approved the concession request a few weeks ago.
This company will be the sixth firm to enter into oil exploration activities in Ethiopia: The most prominent among them is the Malaysian Petronas that is undertaking exploration activities in Gambella and Ogaden areas after signing an agreement in 2003.
Two years later, a company licensed in The Netherlands, Pexco, was granted a permit to explore for oil in the Ogaden. In 2005, a Hong Kong registered company, South-West Energy, owned by Teodros Ashenafi, signed a similar deal to get involved in the Afar Regional State. Another company conducting exploration in the same region is the United States (US) registered Afar Exploration, granted a license in 2006. The Swedish Lundia Petroleum AB, a company that is active in Sudan and Somaliland, was granted a licence in 2007 to explore for oil in the Ogaden area.
"We look forward to see White Nile conduct as significant exploration activities as all these other companies," Minister Alemayehu told Fortune.
White Nile is very familiar to the area where it wants to conduct exploration now. It has conducted geological and geophysical surveys on 70,000sqkm area of the Southern Rift Basin for two years, after it entered into a join study agreement with the Ministry in July 2005. Its findings of deep basins, potentially containing sedimentary sections similar to that of the Muglad and Melut basins of Southern Sudan, is reportedly behind its decision to enter into an exploration agreement with the Ethiopian government.
In the new agreement expected to be signed next Tuesday, White Nile will be granted exploration rights for four years. However, depending on the progress it makes, the company's licence could be renewed for an additional four years, according to Abiy Hunegnaw, director of the Petroleum Department at the Ministry. Following the disclosure of its prospective deal with the Ethiopian government, White Nile's shares were trading 14pc higher than its 45.5p (8.5 Br) on the London Stock Exchange.
Nevertheless, the Nairobi based company has been a poor performer at the stock exchange last year, according to The Financial Times. Its shares dropped by 70pc in 2007, according to the newspaper, and suffered a loss of 1.4 million pounds (26 million Br). The company has failed to secure an oilfield in South Sudan known as "Block Ba", claimed by TOTAL of France.
Sudanese state company, Nile Petroleum Corporation Ltd. Controls 44.67pc of its shares.
Swedish Lundin Petroleum starts work in Sudan Block 5B
February 13, 2008 (LODON) — Swedish Lundin Petroleum AB has started drilling operations in Block 5B, the oil firm announced today.
The exploration well Nyal-1, located on the western flank of the basin was spudded on Thursday, 7 February 2008. The well is located in the "dry land" area of the block where several prospects have been identified as a result of the recently acquired 2D seismic program.
The exploration well Nyal-1, with a planned depth of 2,100 metres, will target the Upper to Lower Cretaceous sandstone reservoirs that have proved highly productive in other producing fields in the Muglad Basin. The gross unrisked recoverable prospective resource for the Nyal prospect is estimated at 176 million barrels of oil (mmbo).
In parallel, preparations for the start of the "swamp" area drilling campaign with the first exploration well Wan Machar-1 (previously Umm Dandalo) are ongoing.
Following accusations by HRW of fueling fighting in southern Sudan, at the end of November 2003, the Swedish oil company sold most of its oil interests in Sudan to Petronas, a Malaysian state-owned company, in June 2003.
Rights to the concession of Block 5B were awarded under an Exploration & Production Sharing Agreement signed on 2 May 2001, to a consortium composed of Petronas Carigali White Nile (5B) Ltd (39%), Lundin Petroleum AB (Lundin Block 5B BV) (24,5%), ONGC Videsh Ltd (23,5%) and Sudapet Ltd (13%).
Furthermore, the partnership has accepted the recommendation of the National Petroleum Commission to assign a 10% share to the Southern Sudan Oil Company to be allocated on a "pro rata" basis from each of the partners’ shares.
The Block is operated by WNPOC, a joint operating company between PETRONAS and Sudapet on behalf of the consortium members.
Block 5B is located in the Muglad Basin and covers an area of 20,119 square kilometers. Muglad is the main oil-producing basin in Sudan and has seen the development of several large oilfields over the past few years. So far the consortium has been active in reprocessing and reinterpreting existing seismic data.