The much-delayed awards would immediately follow the exercise and a meeting of the JDA's Joint Ministerial Council, which must approve the awards and reportedly has already decided who will win. That would likely mean sometime between April 11 and April 15, a Friday.
The Dow Jones story was apparently keyed to a press release ostensibly issued by the JDA on March 22 but which only appeared on the JDA Website (www.nigeriasaotomejda.com) on Wednesday, March 30.
No mention of ERHC Energy appeared in this article. ERHC has the same kind of preferential rights as ExxonMobil but has already exercised them and had them validated by the JDA.
Scott wrote a 1,500-word feature on ERHC Energy's prospects that ran repeatedly ion the Dow ones wire in late January. Here is the latest effort, first posted by mrken11 on Raging Bull's ERHE message board:
Sao Tome, Nigeria Set Deadline on Rights
by Norval Scott and Vincent Nwanma
Wed, Mar 30, 2005 19:56 GMT
LONDON - A firm deadline of April 9 has been set for ExxonMobil Corp. to decide whether it will exercise its preferential rights in the Sao Tomean-Nigerian Joint Development Zone, Sam Dimka, a spokesman for the Joint Development Authority told Dow Jones Newswires Wednesday.
That should allow the JDA to move forward in concluding the drawn-out licensing process, which has been ongoing since April 2003. The licensing round closed on Dec. 15 2004, with 26 bids from 23 companies for the five JDZ oil and gas blocks on offer being received.
However, the round has been delayed somewhat as ExxonMobil has still to decide whether to take up the preferential rights it was awarded as a result of contracts it held in the region before the JDZ was created. The company now has a deadline of April 9 by which it must make its decision, Dimka said.
ExxonMobil can exercise its rights on any two blocks from those on offer, and would gain equity of 25% in each if it does so. It has already taken a 40% interest in Block 1, considered to have the best prospects and awarded by the JDA in 2004.