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    Frustrated Ascent Seeks Value outside Slovenia


However it is still hopeful of receiving permits that will allow gas production to grow.

by: William Powell

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Frustrated Ascent Seeks Value outside Slovenia

UK producer Ascent has given up its attempt to sell its "high-potential" Petisovci gas production project in northeastern Slovenia, it said January 14, despite starting exports to Croatia in November 2017. It said the government's permitting process had stymied attempts to expand the project, making it unattractive to bidders.

Accordingly, Ascent has resumed its previous strategy to expand its interests beyond Slovenia while continuing to focus on a way forward to develop Petisovci. It said: "This expansion is focused on new projects in the region, with well-developed oil and gas infrastructure, a proven working petroleum system and an established regulatory and legal framework that will allow Ascent to deliver real growth to its shareholders."

Last year Ascent produced about 12mn m³ of gas and 2,905 barrels of condensate in Slovenia while total revenue for the period is expected to be around €2.1mn ($2.4mn). Production from Slovenia and the continued focus on minimising costs enables it to continue to progress the project at Petisovci while also re-focusing the company's activities.

In November last year the new environment minister announced an internal review into the permitting process. This review concluded in early December with the findings of the review focussed on procedural issues within the environment agency Arso, not the content of the permit applications, Ascent said, adding that it was hopeful that two permits will be issued in due course; in the meantime it will explore other ways to increase production from Petisovci independent of permitting.

It is also making some changes to the management structure, with Colin Hutchinson back as full-time CEO; and geophysicist John Buggenhagen as COO, but not on the board. He was formerly CEO of Palomar Natural Resources, which focused on Poland; and director of exploration for Irish San Leon Energy.

Clive Carver, non-executive chairman, has resigned from the board; and  so will Nigel Moore, a non-executive director, once a suitable replacement has been appointed. Cameron Davies will continue to provide continuity and technical expertise as chairman.