Exploration firms reach deal with Ghana after licence row

Two Irish exploration firms — Clontarf Energy and Petrel Resources — have reached agreement with the authorities in Ghana over a long-running dispute concerning lost licence acreage in the west African country.

Exploration firms reach deal with Ghana after licence row

The John Teeling-chaired sister companies — which, respectively, own 60% and 30% of the Tano-2A exploration licence in Ghana (10% is locally-owned) — had initiated legal proceedings (which have now been withdrawn) after US firm, CAMAC Energy had been granted acreage overlapping the Irish firms’ existing prospect. London-listed Clontarf’s share price fell from nearly £3 to less than 50p in the past year, mainly due to the confusion over the Ghana licence.

However, the two companies yesterday announced that the Ghanaian authorities have agreed the provision of additional acreage, which preserves the overall size of the Tano block at around 15,000 sq km — about three times the size of an average licence block held in Ireland’s highly-rated Porcupine Basin field.

The new land awards need to be formally approved by Ghana’s parliament, which could take up to four months. After that, though, the companies will re-embark on geophysical and seismic activity, with Petrel chief, David Horgan suggesting, yesterday, that the company could introduce new investors or a farm-in partner within the next two years.

Petrel, which recently criticised the Irish Government’s new taxation plans for oil finds in coastal waters, has said it fully intends to apply for “more than one block” in the newly opened Atlantic Margin 2015 licensing round. The company is already set to drill at its existing Irish operations in the Porcupine Basin, off the Kerry coast, during 2016.

Clontarf and Petrel’s success in resolving its African dispute marks the first time a non-domestic player has managed a victory against Ghana’s government regarding licensing permits.

The news came a day after another Irish-related explorer, Tullow Oil said it would be “robustly” challenging a tax ruling, in Uganda, claiming it owes a further $265m (€196m) in unpaid capital gains tax relating to its farm-down of local assets two years ago.

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