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    RockRose Expects UK Court Action with Taqa


The relative newcomer is on the acquisition trail and seeking to push back decommissioning dates.

by: William Powell

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RockRose Expects UK Court Action with Taqa

UK producer RockRose expects its defence of its operatorship of the Greater Brae Area to go to court, executive chairman Andrew Austin said in an interview September 5. Abu Dhabi-owned Taqa has been seeking to take over that position for itself.

He told analyst Malcolm Graham-Wood that Marathon, which RockRose bought for $95mn, had been the operator since the outset; and that Taqa had not explained its reason for the challenge. Taqa owns a bigger shareholding, he said, but the challenge was not consistent with the principles of maximising the economic recovery of the North Sea. In the interview, which may be viewed here, he also spoke of the plans to extend the asset life by several years beyond Marathon's plans and is drilling two wells later this year.

He said any costs associated with the transfer of operatorship would be borne by the partners and so would have no financial impact on Rockrose. But defending its operatorship was an irritating distraction, he said.

Gas is a material part of the company's portfolio, he said. The oil gas mix is slightly changing: oil will be for the petrochemicals industry while, gas is for the energy transition, and RockRose looking at its carbon footprint. The European gas price is pretty low now, he said: but the longer term price of gas is significantly higher and RockRose would like to put more gas in the mix. He said more acquisitions were on the agenda, with a war chest that could absort a $1bn deal.

A number of companies in the North Sea are up for sale, including Spirit Energy, the gas-focused upstream company majority owned by Centrica, although the asking price for that might be valued higher than the price he quoted. Earlier this year RockRose was frustrated in its attempt to by Independent Oil & Gas – which itself described the hostile approach as an irritating distraction from its plans to drill a well in its core project.