By Sully Manope
Equatorial Guinea is not expecting all the seven companies which won acreages in its last bid round to get up to speed with their proposed work programmes.
The country’s oil patch is littered with stories of several companies which picked up assets and did not implement a robust work programme, let alone drill a single well, even though they were obligated to, for, in cases, close to a decade.
Which is apparently why Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, the Minister of Petroleum, chooses to talk up only the companies that he sees, with their track records, are more likely to do the work.
In three conferences in the last three months, he has talked excitedly about Kosmos Energy’s entry into the country, ExxonMobil’s sign-on into a new acreage and Ophir Energy’s winning of Block EG-24.
Of these three companies, only Ophir got its own new block through the process of the last bid round. Kosmos got EG-21, S and W by discretionary awards and bought out Hess from the Ceiba and Okoume fields. ExxonMobil got Block EG -11 also by negotiations with the authorities.
Equatorial Guinea knows that there are questions around the other six (apart from Ophir), who won in the bid.Atlas Petroleum, which is partnered with South Africa’s Strategic Fuel Fund for Block EG-10, is well known for sitting on assets without taking them any closer to drilling, let alone development.
Given its pedigree in EQ Guinea, where it sat on Blocks until bigger independents came in to farm in at least five years after it had been awarded the acreages, it is surprising that it won this time again.Atlas Petroleum has repeated this pattern all over Africa.
Offshore Equator Plc, which won Block EG-23 is unknown; Taleveras, which picked up Block EG-07, is an oil trader trying to feel its way upstream. Its oil trading business is not anywhere on the scale of Vitol or Glencore, who have been acquiring upstream acreages too, but have the deep pockets to purchase upstream technical expertise.
Elenilto won Block EG-09. It’s an Israeli group involved in a range of activity from real estate to renewable energy, is relatively a novice in oil and gas. Its only hydrocarbon asset is the Senegal Offshore Sud Shallow Block (SOSSB), on which it has announced no work programme. One company that looks, from a distance, a little earnest is Clontarf Energy, which won Block EG-18.