Petroceltic to fill Africa funding gap

PETROCELTIC is hoping to expand its portfolio of assets in north Africa on the back of unrest in the region.

The democratic uprisings in the region have created a funding shortfall for the local exploration industry and the Irish company — whose focus is chiefly in Algeria, Tunisia and Italy — is confident of stepping into the breach.

The Dublin-headquartered oil and gas exploration company recently agreed to sell an 18.4% stake in its leading asset in Algeria — the Isarene licence — to Italian utility company Enel for €123 million.

On the back of that deal, Petroceltic could have around $100m (€70m) to spend on expansion deals. The Enel tie-up is expected some time during the third quarter of this year.

While it was yesterday declining to talk about the expansion issue, Petroceltic’s chief executive Brian O’Cathain suggested last week that the company could boost its presence in Tunisia and gain a foothold in Egypt, as well as other countries.

This would likely see Petroceltic target farm-in agreements on existing projects with operators who are finding it hard to access additional funding.

“Mention was again given to Egypt and Tunisia, which were singled out in preference to Yemen, as countries where the combination of relative stability and required investment may enable companies such as Petroceltic to farm-in or acquire assets,” said Gerry Hennigan of Goodbody Stockbrokers.

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