Circle Oil to seek partner in Tunisia

Limerick-based exploration firm, Circle Oil has confirmed it intends to seek a farm-in partner for its highly-anticipated offshore Tunisian assets.

The northern African-focused firm, which yesterday received a warm reception from shareholders at its Dublin AGM, last month saw its market value jump by over €30 million and its share price rocket by nearly 30% on the back of it announcing a potentially transformational oil discovery off the coast of the African nation.

Early results from drilling on the Mahdia Permit — Circle’s first ever offshore prospect — suggested estimated recoverable resources of around 100m barrels of oil, leading analysts to use terms like “very significant discovery” and “potentially transformational“.

It is understood that drilling costs, regarding the offshore asset, amounted to $30m (€23.2m).

Speaking directly after yesterday’s shareholders meeting, Circle’s chairman, Stephen Jenkins confirmed market speculation that a development partner will, indeed, be sought, but would not be made for a number of months.

It is also understood that the Tunisian Government holds an option to buy into a maximum of 50% of the Mahdia Permit, although it is thought that it might buy a smaller percentage, leaving the way clear for another external party to invest also.

Mr Jenkins added that Circle, which earlier this week issued a strong set of first-half figures — including a 13% year-on-year rise in revenues, is also looking for a farm-in partner for its offshore assets in Oman and is hoping to increase its acreage in the Middle-Eastern country.

Circle also recently stated that it aims to continue expanding its asset base across the Middle East and North Africa region, both organically and via acquisition (of assets rather than companies). However, Mr Jenkins said, yesterday, that as no new attractive assets had been identified all upcoming expansion is likely to come via the drill-bit.

In addition, he confirmed that Circle is happy with its current geographical spread (Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Oman) and is not looking to enter any new territories at this time.

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