BP, Timis Reject Senegal Gasfields Claims
Romanian businessman Frank Timis and UK major BP rejected June 3 claims that an asset deal, involving the sale of two gas fields offshore Senegal in 2017, were suspicious. UK broadcaster BBC is to air a Panorama programme at 2030 BST in which sources say that BP's purchase will divert billions of dollars from Senegal state coffers into private hands.
Journalists reporting for the programme said that the $250mn purchase would be followed by royalty payments to Timis of between $9bn and $12bn on some of the most generous terms in the industry over 40 years.
A former Senegalese prime minister said Petro-Tim, Timis' company, should never have won the concession, as it had no experience in the sector. Soon after the award, the president lost his job and his successor Macky Sall, fighting on an anti-corruption ticket, said the awards should be cancelled.
But they were not. The president's brother, Aliou Sall, a man alleged to have no upstream experience, was offered a consultancy job in Timis Corporation, where he was paid $25,000/month for five years, and shares worth a further $3mn. There were protests in the streets of Senegal, where demonstrators claimed the president's family was cashing in. A lawyer speaking to the journalists said there was enough evidence, on the basis of the documents he had seen, to justify an investigation.
Timis and BP sent statements to the BBC presenting their side of the story before the programme was aired. Timis said: "These allegations are entirely false. There has been no wrongdoing whatsoever in relation to the Saint-Louis Offshore Profond and Caya Offshore Profond oil and gas concessions.
"The reality is that the concession – which was awarded by President Wade – was a highly risky and speculative investment that came with substantial and costly investment obligations. At the time the concessions were awarded, no hydrocarbons had been discovered and there was a significant possibility that they never would be. Over the previous 40 years, numerous multinational oil and gas companies had the opportunity to fully explore and develop the concession but didn't take it, no doubt because of the substantial risks involved. As at 2014, it was still not known whether the concession would yield any viable oil or gas fields.
"Following the substantial pioneer capital, drive and experience of Mr Timis, and his credible relationships with other oil and gas developers, the concession now has the potential to generate many billions of dollars revenue for the people of Senegal and provide gas to generate power which can be supplied across the whole of west Africa, to the benefit of many millions more people. We are proud of our work and reiterate that these baseless claims are rejected."
BP told Panorama: "BP rejects any implication that it acted improperly in the acquisition of our interests in Senegal.
Before acquiring our interests, BP conducted extensive and appropriate due diligence, including in the areas of ethics, compliance and anti-corruption. In addition to our own due diligence, we engaged directly with Kosmos Energy and their external advisors who had previously conducted due diligence on these assets.
"Our investments are already creating opportunities for Senegal, and together with our co-venturers (Kosmos Energy and the national oil companies) we have begun the first development of gas resources that will bring substantial benefits, including revenue and domestic gas, for the country and people of Senegal."