All articles in the Farm in, Farm Out Section:


FAR Signs New JOAs, But Struggles for Partner to Fund the Next Gambian Well

Australian minnow, FAR, has reported “efforts to find an additional partner for the drilling of the next well in The Gambia”.

FAR is still smarting from the dismal results of the Samo-1 well, drilled in offshore Block A 2 in late 2018. The first exploratory well to be drilled in the Northwest African country in  40 years, Samo-1 was a dry hole.

The company signed new Joint Operating Agreements (JOA’s) in respect of the A2 and A5 Blocks, with the Malaysian state hydrocarbon company f Petroliam Nasional Berhad, PETRONAS).

This follows the granting of new Licences for those Blocks by The Government of The Gambia effective October 1 2019, after which FAR and PETRONAS took the opportunity to update the terms of the existing JOA’s by entering into new JOA’s with effect from 1 October 2019.

FAR remains as Operator under the new JOA’s which better reflect the terms of the new Licences.

FAR says it has “run numerous data room presentations for interested parties” and it is “working to conclude a farm-out before the restart of the drilling operations”.


Foretelling Winners and Losers in Nigeria’s High-Stake  Marginal Field Bid Round

By Dimeji Bassir

The Nigerian government, obviously betting that its estimated 2.3Billion barrels of discovered but mostly unappraised crude oil reserves across 183 fields considered marginal are peculiarly coveted, launched the 2020 Marginal field bid rounds at the end of May 2020. The fee structure as published in the advertised bid guidelines suggest the exercise is a desperate move to raise capital by a government on the verge of a second recession in five years. Pundits, however, believe the timing for the bid round could not be more inauspicious given the global pandemic that has thrown the world into severe health and economic crisis. With resource ownership and production dominated by the five major International Oil Companies (IOCs) operating in the country, the government in 2003 formally transferred ownership of 24 fields to Nigerian companies following the 2003/4 marginal field bid round and between then and now have approved the transfer of $10Billion worth of assets from IOCs to a slew of homegrown independent companies, who are mostly well-positioned to benefit from the ongoing bidding exercise.

A recent Africa Oil+Gas Report newsletter article, quoting unnamed sources at the ministry of petroleum resources, reports that up to 500 companies are expected to have applied and paid the fixed registration fee of Five Hundred Thousand Naira by the new June 21 registration deadline. Six out of the seven statutory fee categories are field-specific thus variable, growing incrementally depending on how many fields a participant is bidding for. A bidder who has narrowed down to and bidding for only one field must part with approximately $125,000 to progress to the stage of signature bonus. The asking amount for signature bonuses was not disclosed in the bidding guidelines contrary to what obtained in the past. A successful bidder must confirm willingness to pay the signature bonus upon selection and before the award of the marginal field. While the process is planned to be conducted 100% electronically, how this will pan out in reality remains to be seen. In the period since the bid round was launched, some prospective bidders have complained of inability to access the registration portal. Previous bidding processes in Nigeria have been fraught with political interference and nothing in the current political climate in Nigeria suggest there will be a departure from status quo this time.

Challenges: Setting aside the widespread enthusiasm by participating stakeholders momentarily, the sub-optimal performance shown by the majority of licensees from the 2003/4 class should evoke some caution. For a number of reasons but mostly due to funding challenges, no more than 50% of the marginal fields awarded in Nigeria have produced hydrocarbon, leaving observers pondering how successful bidders hope to attract capital as sources of funding for fossil fuels thin out across the globe. On their side, local banks who have shut their purses primarily due to over-exposure to the sector, draw little inspiration to further invest in this round at a time when unprecedentedly, the credit rating of giants like ExxonMobil has been downgraded by S & P due to its anaemic cash flow position thereby impacting the company’s ability to fund its capital projects and continue to pay dividends as the industry witnesses its bleakest outlook in history.

Among the class of 2003, approximately 47% of those licensees that attained production partnered with foreign entities, at one point or the other in their development journeys with 23% funded through financing and technical services partnerships with international players. Notably, 55% of gross daily liquid production from marginal fields comes from assets initially funded by foreign entities. This fact assumedly raises a glimmer of hope that if replicated, the model of seeking avenues to partner with foreign entities under similar arrangements could bode well for current bidders.

Other areas that could pose challenges down the line to undiscerning participants in the current bid round pertains to potential issues surrounding enforceability and bankability of contracts between the licensee, who enters into a farm-out agreement with the main lease owner, effectively as a sub-lessee. The parameters of the terms of the farm-out agreement which ideally must thoroughly address obligations of parties regarding issues such as overriding royalty to the farmor, crude handling prioritization & lifting costs, how to handle pipeline losses, abandonment & decommissioning, resolution of unitization where applicable etc. could potentially become contentious. Aside from the reality of restiveness in some areas of the Niger Delta, which portends risk for those that will operate in those communities, certain fields included in the basket are potential candidates for litigation as the government had revoked licenses from previous lessees in controversial circumstances.

Potential for Upsides: Marginal fields by definition are technically and economically challenged assets that typically haven’t met the development criteria of the IOCs who discovered them. Decisions made and the strategy adopted at the bidding stage invariably predicts future outcomes post-bid and drives an asset’s overall performance as well as underpins the ability to effectively de-risk the ensuing development project to maximize commercial value from the asset. A delicate balance must be achieved to effectively manage the competing philosophical considerations that will drive the most prudent risk-balanced FDP approach; the wisdom to achieve early, albeit relatively minimal cash flow timeously and most cost-effectively versus a full-blown, costlier and seemingly more lucrative development strategy. The upsides realizable centers on taking a life-cycle view during bidding, ensuring that consideration is given to depletion beyond primary recovery. Looking at assets deemed marginal, the prudent approach is to advocate key technologies, multiple depletion strategies and the timing of implementation to be incorporated in the field’s life cycle plan and road-map. Having a life cycle plan and road-map allows for optimal facility planning to accommodate technology application geared towards maximizing economic URF. The eventual goal, of course, is to maximize the value of the full hydrocarbon stream.

The self-healing nature of crude oil cycles infers some optimism that current effort to stimulate supply deficit through agreed production cuts will yield results in short order. Pending the restoration of oil prices to pre-COVID 19 levels, the prevailing environment where demand remains relatively depressed could offer some advantages – reduced baseline costs to procure services, that typically trails oil price, should motivate operators to develop projects through this slump and be positioned to reap in the upside when the cycle adjusts in a couple of years.

Winners and Losers: The federal government has clearly placed its bet on a robust subscription in this bid round. However, there are no indications that learnings from the historical performance of previous awardees have been incorporated into the thinking in order to influence better outcomes for the program. If the only driver for launching the round, as it appears, is for the government to raise capital from signature bonuses, then the government’s outlook is at best myopic.

As stipulated in the bid guidelines and consistent with what obtained historically, pressures on successful licensees to ” develop or lose ” amidst potential government-imposed bottlenecks, fiscal uncertainties as PIB remains unpassed, as well as other challenges earlier outlined pose significant headwinds which fundamentally threatens the achievement of the marginal field program’s theoretical objectives. With minimal long-term value creation for stakeholders, the crushing legacy of serial losses underwhelms the lofty ideals behind the marginal field programme.

Bassir is Chief Executive, Ofserv, an E&P service company with expertise covering a broad range of services across the Drilling & Facilities Maintenance domains.

 


Widespread Interest expressed in Nigeria’s Marginal Field Bid Round

Over 300 companies have applied to be prequalified for the Nigerian Marginal Field Bid Round, with many others unable to gain access to the portal, in the three weeks since the round was launched.

The Department of Petroleum Resources, the industry regulator, meanwhile, postponed the terminal date of registration of Bids to June 21.

Nigerian Ministry of Petroleum sources say it is likely that over 500 companies would have applied by that date.

The ongoing exercise is the first government supervised oil and gas asset sale since the acreage bid round in 2007.

Marginal fields are undeveloped discoveries that have lain fallow in acreages operated by International Oil Companies for at least 10 years.

It would take around $150,000 for a qualified application to get all the way to signature bonus and a number of Nigerian businessmen. “Once you get to the point of being qualified and all you have to pay is the signature bonus, you’re there”, says a retired reservoir engineer who spent over 25 years with a super major in Nigeria. “There is the impression that a marginal field licence has conferred on you some entitlement”.

The entire exercise, up to the submission of technical/commercial bid, ends on August 16, 2020. In between, from June 21 to August 16, the following will happen: (1) Evaluation of submission and preparation of report, June 22 to July 5; (2) Announcement of Pre-Qualified Applicants and Issuance of Field Teasers, July 5; (3) Data Prying, Leasing, Purchase of Reports, July 6 to August 16; (4) Payment of Application and Bid Processing Fee and Submission of Technical and Commercial Bid; July 6 to August 16. The schedule means that the heavy lifting will happen between July 6 and August 16.

 


Payment Fees, Guidelines, for Nigeria’s 2020 Marginal Field Bid Round

Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum has finally signed off on the launch of the country’s first bd round in 13 years, prompting the official release of the guidelines.

A total of fifty-seven fields, located on Land, Swamp and Shallow offshore terrains are on offer.

The bid is open only to Nigerian owned companies and a key criterion for prequalification is Federal Character Representation (evidence that a participatig company’s owners and key personnel are drawn from diverse parts of the country).

The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) will run the process.

Application form (for bidding) will be provided by the DPR and shall attract non-refundable chargeable fees as follows:

  • Application fee: 2 Million Naira per field.
  • Bid Processing Fee: 3Million Naira per field.
  • Data prying fee: $15,000.00 per field. Data prying shall be on appointment.
  • Data Leasing fee: $25,000.00 per field.
  • Competent Persons Report: $50,000.00 (Fifty Thousand US Dollars).
  • Fields Specific Report: $25,000.00.

Application fees and processing fees be paid into the Treasury Single Account (TSA). Signature Bonus will be paid into the Federation Account.

The fees for data leasing, data prying, Competent Persons Report (CPR) and Field Specific Report should be paid into the account of the National Data Repository (NDR) for repayment.

The applicant must show evidence of technical and managerial capability. The applicant shall demonstrate ability to fully meet the objective of undertaking expeditious and efficient development of a Marginal Field. Where there is little or no track record of petroleum operations, interested companies would be expected to demonstrate ability to manage or develop in that direction in the short to medium term.

Company shall confirm willingness to pay the offered Signature Bonus if successful.

The signature bonus will be determined by the economic viability of each field; which means that different

Such monies will be paid into the into the Federation Account. The bid round shall soon be announced,

The DPR will manage the process, ensuring compliance to the tenets of the guidelines.

Fuller details are in the DPR dedicated portal marginal.dpr.gov.ng

 

 

 


‘Government Licence Revocation to Blame for Rig Fire Incident’, Company Laments

By Toyin Akinosho, Publisher

The Nigerian minnow, Guarantee Petroleum, has argued that the revocation order, sent to the company in early April 2020, right in the middle of a well re-entry process, encouraged a sense of pandemonium which resulted in the fire incident on the Grace-1 HWU, the hydraulic workover rig that was performing re-entry operations on Ororo field, in shallow water Oil Mining Lease (OML) 95.

“Service providers became jittery when the announcement came”, Tunde Giwa, the company’s Managing Director, lamented to Africa Oil+Gas Report.

“We had almost finalised operations”, Giwa explained, “We were at the bottom of the well (circa 10,000feet) we had opened four hydrocarbon zones, and taken all the plugs out. Baker Hughes was on site to put the tubings, (and complete the well). That was when the problem started. The service providers who could have intervened in the various well pressure amelioration work, were refusing to do their job”.

Nigerian regulatory authorities were well aware that there was an operation going on, there were safety issues involved and yet they revoked the licence of the operator with immediate effect.

The well re-entry commenced in October 2019 and officials of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) were aware of the work, which they sanctioned, according to documents sighted by Africa Oil+Gas Report. Well control challenges started in April and when the revocation order came, “the service companies started reducing their work scope”. Giwa claims that as of Sunday, May 17, 2020, the DPR had not responded to letters and email messages on the fire incident.

Asked why the company had deployed a hydraulic workover rig to re-enter and work over a well that had prior record of overpesssured zones, Giwa said that the issue was not the rig competency. “The Blowout Preventer (BOP) stack and drilling mud pumps (designed to circulate drilling fluid under high pressure) were the same as a regular rig”.

Guarantee Petroleum, with its partner, Owena Oil, won the Ororo field in the 2002/2003 Marginal field round.

DPR is right to be concerned that the two companies had sat” on the licence for 17 years without applying a sense of urgency to bring the asset to production.

It is in the DPR’s remit to revoke the licence.

But it is wrong for officials, themselves geoscientists and engineers, to approve technical operations of this nature and financial magnitude (in excess of $20Million), with a high safety quotient, and revoke the licence right in the middle of the operations.


TOTAL Won’t Go into Ghana’s Upstream Yet

French major TOTAL has taken the decision not to proceed with consummating the purchase of Occidental Petroleum’s stakes in Ghana.

Occidental had acquired Anadarko in early 2019 and subsequently entered into a Purchase and Sale Agreement (PSA) in order for TOTAL to acquire Anadarko’s assets in Africa. Under this agreement, TOTAL and Occidental have since completed the sale and purchase of the Mozambique and South Africa assets.

The PSA provided that the sale of the Ghana assets was conditional upon the completion of the Algeria assets’ sale. Occidental has informed TOTAL that, as part of an understanding with the Algerian authorities on the transfer of Anadarko’s interests to Occidental, Occidental would not be in a position to sell its interests in Algeria.

“Given the extraordinary market environment and the lack of visibility that the Group faces, and in light of the non-operated nature of the interests of Anadarko in Ghana”, says a company press release, “TOTAL has decided not to pursue the completion of the purchase of the Ghana assets and, as a consequence, to preserve the Group’s financial flexibility”.

 


Nigerian Companies Are the Biggest Defaulters on Ghana’s Concession Rentals

Sahara Energy Fields, Brittania U and Erin Energy, all founded by Nigerian businessmen, are among the the eight Exploration and Production Companies, that were in default of one payment or another to Ghanaian Tax authorities as of February 2019, the latest date for which data are available.

With $587671.23 behind in both arrears and 2019 outstanding, Swiss African Oil owed the most, according to  Public Interest Accountability Committee, Ghana’s equivalent of NEITI. SAO was followed by Brittania U and Sahara Energy Fields, both Nigerian owned companies, indebted to the tune of $456, 879.26 and $409,315.07 respectively. The fourth most indebted to the Ghanaian state was Gosco/Heritage, with $334,850.00 in both arrears and 2019 outstanding.

Erin Energy, also a Nigerian founded company, owed $151,200. The least indebted companies were Medea $78,050; UB Resources, $37,050 and Springfield, $33,650.


LEKOIL Gets A Breather on $7.6Million It Has to Pay to Optimum

By Foluso Ogunsan

AIM Listed LEKOIL says it reached an agreement with Optimum Petroleum Development Company, the Operator of the Oil Prospecting Lease (OPL 310), on deferring the final tranche of payment of $7.6Million due on or before 2 May 2020.

The companies had earlier jointly decided that final payment of $9.6Million, in aggregate, would be made to Optimum to cover sunk costs and consent fees for LEKOIL’s 17% farmed in interest. This final payment was to be made in two tranches with the first payment of $2Million completed as announced on 3 April 2020.

Now Optimum and LEKOIL have agreed on a deferred payment schedule as follows: the sum of $1.0Million to be paid on or before 15 July 2020; the sum of $2Million to be paid on or before 2 September 2020, and the sum of $4.6Million to be paid on or before 2 November 2020.

OPL 310, located in 100 to 200metre water depth in the Benin Basin, offshore Lagos, Nigeria, contains the Ogo field.

The field was discovered in 2013, with LEKOIL and (then partner) Afren, now defunct, describing it a significant discovery and claiming estimates of P50 recoverable resources of 774 Million Barrels of Oil Equivalent (MMBBOE) a figure which far exceeds the expected pre-drill estimate of 202MMBOE.

 

 

 


Equatorial Guinea Grants Two Year Extension for All Oil & Gas Licences

One month after it announced the waiving of its fees for oil service companies in the country, Equatorial Guinea has granted E&P companies a two-year extension on their exploration programmes.

The grant, the country says, “will also ensure flexibility on the work programmes of producing companies to ensure growth and stability in the market”.
In late March, the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons MMH said it took the unanimous decision to waive its fees for service companies for a duration of three months, adding that it recognised the fact that the oil sector continues to be the largest private sector employer in the country and “we want to give our local services companies the means to weather the storm and avoid any jobs being lost”. It said it was “the first action to be taken to support oil & gas services companies in the wake of the oil price drop caused by the coronavirus pandemic”.

Oil prices have headed farther south in the four weeks since that first announcement, with the horizon even cloudier. Yesterday’s press release announcing the grant of extension of tenor of acreage licences came less than a week after the Petroleum minister, Gabriel Mbaga Lima Obiang, suggested at a webinar that countries should be granting extensions for E&P licences at this time, as companies would be unable to carry out work programmes with any clarity until 2021.

“The Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons remains concerned about the resounding impact of the drop in oil prices, COVID-19 and its dramatic consequences on our hydrocarbons industry”, says the release.

“At a time of great uncertainty, we have an obligation to make bold, decisive, and pragmatic policy decisions to get the industry moving again,” the statement explains, adding  that the government is fully committed to safeguard local oil & gas industry, its companies and its employees.

“The granting of these extensions has been deemed suitable to create an enabling environment for international and African companies to keep investing in Equatorial Guinea and ensure a quick recovery of our industry.

“The MMH will continue working with oil companies benefitting from such incentives to make sure that the recovery of Equatorial Guinea’s oil sector is made on the back of local content promotion, increased technology transfers, and procurement of additional local goods and services. A particular emphasis will be put on educating, training and promoting local workforce to help further reduce operational costs for international companies while maximising the creation of local value and revenue”.

With these proposals, the Equatoguinean authorities say they guarantee existing investments into Equatorial Guinea, while empowering local companies to assist their foreign partners in safeguarding and increasing their operations in the country.

“Some of these companies operating in Equatorial Guinea notably include ExxonMobil, EGLNG, Marathon Oil Corp, Atlas Petroleum, Kosmos Energy, Noble Energy, Glencore, Royal Gate Energy, Gunvor, Trident Energy, etc.

“Such historic measures are being rolled out as Equatorial Guinea implements a series of landmark projects across its upstream, midstream and downstream industries. The backfill project is already ongoing to pool supply from stranded gas in the Gulf of Guinea and replace declining output from the Alba Field. Meanwhile, the ongoing Year of Investment has generated strong interest from various existing and new players in Equatorial Guinea to build and expand midstream and downstream infrastructure and maximise local processing and transformation of domestic crude oil and natural gas.”


Sonangol Begins Second Round of Sale of Equity

Angola’s state hydrocarbon copay Sonangol has launched the second round of its widely anticipated international pubic bid for the sale of its stakes in 52 companies.

Nine companies are up for grabs in this tranche, three more than the six that were involved in the tender launched in January 2020.

The companies include Petromar, where it is divesting 30%; Sonatide Marine Limited, and Sonatde Marine Angola Limitada, 51%; Sonamet Industrial S. A and Sonacergy Services and Oil Construction Limited, 40%.

Sonangol will divest 33% from each of Paenal-Porto Amboim Shipyard and SBM Shpyard. It will sell 30% of Sonadiets Limitad and Sonadiets Services SA.

The companies for sale this time are all involved in oil and gas operations, whereas those in the January 2020 tender are enterprises in non-oil and gas functions

Bidders are expected to submit qualification documents to the Negotiation Committee for the Process of Disposal of Sonangol’s Quota in Mineral Resources and Petroleum Segment.

They are required to present a provisional bond and a value raging from $7000 to $15,000  or equivalent in Kwanzas, based on the existing foreign exchange rate.

The tender is being conducted under the terms of the country’s Public Procurement Law and applications will start to be received in mid May 2020.

 

 

© 2020 Festac News Press Ltd..