Total's Senegal Claim is Challenged
The award to Total of a 90% stake in a large offshore exploration block offshore Senegal earlier this week has been disputed by a smaller independent.
African Petroleum said May 3 it already holds the 90% operated interest in the Rufisque Offshore Profond licence covering 10.357km2.
"Under the terms of the Rufisque Offshore Profond (ROP) production sharing contract, the block remains active unless and until a termination procedure is enacted by the Republic of Senegal. To date, the Republic of Senegal has not validly enacted such termination procedure, and accordingly the company reserves its rights under the ROP PSC," said African Petroleum.
It also said that an April 18 heads of terms agreement, whereby it signed an exclusivity agreement to negotiate the sale to an unnamed company of 70% interests in one Senegal and two Gambia offshore blocks, did not relate to ROP but instead to the Senegal Offshore Sud Profond block and to blocks A1 and A4 off Gambia.
Any of the proceeds raised in a private placement announced on May 2 2017 relating to that April 18 agreement would not be invested in ROP, it added.
Total has not responded to NGW's questions about what signature bonus, if any, it paid for the 90% interest in the ROP block -- now in an oil and gas exploration hotspot -- and has not commented on African Petroleum's prior claim to ROP which was listed in the latter's 2016 annual report. Senegal's president sacked his energy minister since 2015 on May 3, the day Total announced it had secured rights to the block, adding to the wider confusion.
Romanian-Australian businessman Frank Timis, the controversial former chief of Regal Petroleum, is a shareholder in African Petroleum although the company says since 2013 he has not held any role in its governance; a spokesman put his current holding in African Petroleum at "about 21.4%."
African Petroleum says it has equity interests offshore Senegal, the Gambia, Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone. However it recently reached a deal with BP over its minority stake in Kosmos-operated licences. An exploration well is planned in 2H2017 in the Cote d'Ivoire CI-513 block where Ophir is operator but AP has an interest.