President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria Obasanjo, beset on every side by by immense problems of governance, steered a firm and direct course towards a conclusion of the JDA awards process, often against bitter opposition.
Missing from the lineup is an English-language story from the Portuguese news agency Lusa, which circulated a strictly-Sao Tome point of view, and Vitrina, which provided much of the most difficult-to-come-by news during the three weeks the first awards document languished in Sao Tome's bureaucracy.
Other Nigerian newspapers which have covered the story in the past are also silent tomorrow, including The Punch of Nigeria (which predicted awards on May 27, nearly setting off a riot on Raging Bull), The Sun, The Guardian, The Vanguard, Daily Champion, Financial Standard and New Age. Some of these newspapers are truly indifferent to important news.
President Fradique de Menezes
The Sao Tome and Principe President fought for a conclusion that would benefit his poverty-stricken island nation, and in the end triumphed over a fractious opposition party that wanted to embarrass him. Instead, he emerged with a $125 million windfall for Sao Tome.
Incidentally, none of the stories have yet explained how 105 percent of Block 2 was awarded. And there is as yet no press release on the Joint Development authority Website, http://wwww.nigeriasaotomejda.com.
Sir Emeka Chukwu Offor
Few will deny that the man behind ERHC Energy is a financial genius of startling proportion. He took a tiny Louisiana firm worth absolutely nothing - indeed, far less than nothing, because it was deeply in debt - and nurtured it slowly in the toxic environment of the West African petroleum industry into what is now an important world player controlling vast acreage in the Gulf of Guinea, where seismic data indicates there could be as much as 14 billion barrels of oil. Offor controls 42 percent of ERHC Energy shares, listed as ERHE on the OTC Bulletin Board.
Here's one of the most recent pieces, from Agence France-Presse, which was one of the few truly independent voices in the hectic last days before awards, an helped counteract the negativity of Lusa:
Nigeria, Sao Tome announce award of oil exploration blocks
ABUJA (AFX) - Nigeria and its island neighbour Sao Tome awarded five major offshore exploration contracts in their joint offshore development zone to foreign and local energy firms, officials said.
The long-awaited announcement came at the close of a meeting of the leaders of presidents Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Fradique de Menezes of Sao Tome and Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea on security in the Gulf of Guinea.
Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea are already major oil exporters and with Tuesday's decision De Menezes will now hope that his island nation can join what could become a major regional oil boom.
"The important documents that Sao Tome endorsed today will bring benefits to all our peoples, who are the owners of these resources," De Menezes told reporters after the bilateral and trilateral meetings.
EHRC Energy Inc, a US-listed but Nigerian-owned firm which had been controversially pre-assigned much of the acreage, was among the companies emerging with awards.
Along with its partners - US-based independents Pioneer Natural Resources and Devon Energy - EHRC will be the operator firm of the 692 square kilometer Block 2 and hold 65 pct of the equity.
It will also operate Block 4 with a 60 pct share along with another US ally, Noble Energy.
EHRC will also hold 25 pct of Block 3, and 15 pct of Blocks 5 and 6.
The US firm Anadarko Petroleum Corp will operate Block 3 with a 51 pct stake, while Virginia-based ICC-OEOC have Block 5 and the Nigerian start-up Filtim-Huzod takes 85 pct of block 15.
The rest of the equity in the various blocks has been sold to a variety of local and foreign firms including Nigeria's Conoil and India's ONGC Videsh.
The sale netted the two countries a total bonus of US$283 million.
This article is from tomorrow's ThisDay Online, whose Mike Oduniyi was one of the few reporters who tried to keep up with confusing news (and lack of news) from the Nigeria-Sao Tomne and Joint Development Authority for the better part of a year. Note that Conoil's 20 percent gets more ink than ERHC/Boble Energy's 60 percent; the paper has always had a pro-Conoil bias.
Today's report is from Josephine Lohor, and includes a long and very interesting quote from Presdietn De Menezes, in which he likens Sao Tome to Nigeria's "younger brother," and rejects the idea of there being any bad blood between them:
Five Oil Blocks Approved in JDZ
From Josephine Lohor in Abuja, 05.31.2005
Nigeria President Olusegun Obasanjo and his Sao Tome and Principe counterpart, Mr. Fradique de Menezes, yesterday jointly approved the award of five oil blocks in the 2004 Joint Development Zone (JDZ) licensing round.
They gave the approval in Abuja at the Presidential Lounge of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport. Obasanjo said the approval was a follow up to the bids conducted last December.
Conoil has 20 percent of equity in Block 4 won by Noble/ERHC.
Hercules oil got equity of 10 percent; Godsonic Oil and Gas – five percent and Overt Oil, five percent. Noble/ERHC, which is the operator of Block 4, has equity of 60 percent. The winners of the block are to pay a signature bonus of $90 million.
Block 2 was won by Devon/Pioneer/ERHC as the operator with equity of 65 percent. The signature bonus for the block is $71 million. Others who got equity in the block include Equator Exploration/ ONGC Videsh, 25 percent; A. & Harmattan, 10 percent; Foby Engineering, five percent and Momo Oil & Gas, five percent.
For block 3 with a signature bonus of $40 million, the lead operator is Anardako with equity of 51 percent. Others who won equity include Devon/ERHC, 20 percent; DNO/EER, 10 percent; Equinox, 10 percent and Ophir/Broadlink, four percent.
ICC/OEOC Consortium is the lead operator for Block 5 with a signature bonus of $37 million. Its equity is 75 percent. ERHC has equity of 15 percent while Sahara has 10 percent.
For Block 6, the lead operator is Filtzim-Huzod Oil & Gas with equity of 85 percent. ERHC has equity of 15 percent in the block.
Of the successful bidders, Devon/Pioneer/ERHC, Devon/ ERHC and Noble/ERHC won the bids as operators including their existing rights. ENHC won their equity for Blocks 5 & 6 plus their existing rights.
Obasanjo after the meeting that “transparency and accountability” would guard the activities and decisions of JDZ for oil and gas.
“I’ve always believed that whatever we do cannot really be called local because in the oil sector, all local issues are international issues particularly because of the nature of oil and gas as the most prized and important source of energy all over the world.
“This 2004, which runs into 2005, have been analyzed by our ministers and advisers. They have come together to agree on basis of technical. And they have made recommendations on the local participation, to a large extent, political. He said that there was a deliberate effort to include companies where citizens of both nations have interests or are sponsoring.
“We want people either sponsored by citizens of your country (ST&P) or citizens of Nigeria who can be part of the exercise in order to learn. The way things have been done is sufficiently satisfactory for all of us to feel proud that we have done the best. If there is any complaint like you find in all commercial transactions, it can be resolved by explaining the rationale behind our decisions.”
Also President De Menezes of Sao tome and Principe said the Gulf of Guinea Treaty is before his country’s parliament for approval and immediate implementation. He added that “you will understand that our worries and questions we have often raised for clarifications were only and shall always be questions and clarifications. We just wanted to know as a curious younger brother why our bigger brother is doing this because we are younger in this industry. Nigeria is older and more experienced. We are just asking you why not the other way. Nothing whatsoever apart from curiosity and anxiety. Our relationship is deep. It is large and important.
"Whatsoever comes out of this transaction, 60 percent comes to Nigeria. The rest 40 percent goes to Sao Tome & Principe. It is a novelty and a lesson for the rest of Africa.”
The meeting was preceded by a tri-partite meeting by Obasanjo, Menezes and President Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea on the issue of peace, security, political and economic cooperation in the Gulf of Guinea.
Explaining the reasons for the tri-partite meeting, Obasanjo stated that the meeting between him and the two visiting leaders dwelt on peace and security including the “menacing issue of mercenaries” and co-operation at government and people to people level.
Mbasogo who spoke after the meeting said, “we are much more concerned about issues affecting our nations with regards to mercenaries. We also spoke about establishing joint commissions of the Gulf of Guinea that will enable us implement measures to ward off these threats of mercenaries affecting our nations. We have the three biggest reserves in the oil and gas.
“Therefore, all those who are eyeing these resources are constantly looking into situations and ways by which they will get their hands into our resources. At the tri-partite level, we have to look into ways and revise means by which we will be securing these resources meant for our people’s well being and not for the hands of those wanting to take them away from us. We have to put the commission in place," he said.
Here's a piece from the Daily Independent, whose Bassey Udo was a hard-working voice of reason for most of the long awards process, and just last week offered a long, well-researched explanation for the many delays. Today's piece is by Chesa Chesa, a correspondent who usually covers Abuja government doings:
Wednesday June 1st, 2005
Obasanjo, Menezes meet, approve oil blocs award
by Chesa Chesa
State House Correspondent, Abuja
ABUJA -- President Olusegun Obasanjo and his counterpart from Sao Tome and Principe, Mr. Fradique de Menezes, met on Tuesday in Abuja and approved the award of five oil blocs in the 2004 Joint Development Zone (JDZ) licencing round.
The two leaders, who met at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Presidential Guest House, also had a tripartite meeting with the President of Equatorial Guinea, Nguema Mbasogo.
Both meetings focused on the issues of peace, security, political and economic cooperation in the Gulf of Guinea.
Expressing satisfaction with the oil blocs as awarded in December 2004, Obasanjo said there was a deliberate effort by the Joint Ministerial Council (JMC), which recommended the bids for approval, to include companies in which citizens of Nigeria and Sao Tome have interests or are core sponsors.
According to the president, “transparency and accountability is the watchword for our working together in the area of JDZ for oil and gas. I have always believed that whatever we do cannot really be called local because in the oil sector, all local issues are international issues particularly because of the nature of oil and gas as the most prized and important source of energy all over the world.
“This 2004 which runs into 2005 has been analysed by our ministers and advisers. They have come together to agree on basis of technicality and they have made recommendations on the local participation.
“We want people either sponsored by citizens of your country (Sao Tome and Principe) or citizens of Nigeria who can be part of the exercise in order to learn. The way things have been done is sufficiently satisfactory for all of us to feel proud that we have done the best. If there is any complaint like you find in all commercial transactions, it can be resolved by explaining the rationale behind our decisions”.
Menezes on his part explained some of his inquiries which had stalled early approval of the award of the oil bloc and disclosed that the Gulf of Guinea Treaty is before his country’s parliament for ratification.
And here's an article from Wednesday morning's The Punch, which infamously - and very near correctly - predicted awards on May 27 way back in March, scaring the hell out of everyone:
Oil blocks: Nigeria, Sao Tome earn $283m extra
The Punch, Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Michael Faloseyi, Abuja
Nigeria and Sao Tome and Principe, are to earn $283million as signature bonuses to be paid by the winners of the five oil blocks placed on offer in their joint development zone.
Heads of governments of the two countries, President Olusegun Obasanjo, and Mr. Fradique de Menezes, on Tuesday, endorsed the recommendations of the technical committee of the Joint Development Authority on the oil blocks.
The two heads of government met at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, in Abuja, to ratify winners of the five oil blocks placed on offer in December 2004 in the JDZ of the two countries. The JDZ is an overlapping boundary area of the two countries.
This development brought to $406million, the total amount of signature bonuses realisable from the JDZ. The two countries had earlier realised $123million as signature bonuses from block one.
Another United States oil company, Anadarko, made a foray into the Nigerian oil and gas industry when it emerged a winner and operator of block three.
Two US multinationals ChevronTexaco and ExxonMobil, are currently holding sway in the country’s oil and gas industry. The two are closely rated after the Shell Petroleum Development Company, the leading oil producing company in Nigeria.
The announcement also confirmed Environmental Remediation Holding Company (sic), an indigenous oil and gas company, as a force in the oil and gas industry as it registered its presence in all the five oil blocks advertised in the JDZ.
EHRC has equity participation ranging from 15 to 65 per cent in each of the oil blocks. It also has joint operator status in two of the blocks oil blocks.
A breakdown of the winners as contained in the recommendations of the Joint Ministerial Council held last week, indicated that $71 million signature bonuses would be paid on block two where ERHC has joint operator status.
Other joint operators of the oil block with 65 per cent equity are Devon and Pioneer, while Equator Exploration and ONGC Videsh have 15 per cent joint equity.
Other winners are Hartman with 10 per cent equity, while Foby Engineering and Momo Oil and Gas, have five per cent apiece.
Anadarko, with 51 per cent equity on block 3, will pay $40 million as signature bonus alongside seven other oil companies. They are Devon and EHRC with joint equity holding of 25 per cent, DNO and EER have 10 per cent joint equity, Equinox has 10 per cent joint equity and Ophir has 4 per cent joint equity with Broadlink.
Here, in Portuguese (where it shall remain, at least for the time being) is the latest Tela Non story, containing a lot of negativity despite the fact that the awards have produced a $283 million windfall for the two nations, including $125 million for Sao Tome's desperate, poverty-stricken people:
Adjudicação dos 5 blocos de petróleo foi revista
by Abel Veiga
São Tomé e Príncipe e a Nigéria decidiram reavaliar as propostas de adjudicação de 5 blocos de petróleo da zona de exploração conjunta, cujo o processo gerou polémica nas últimas semanas.
Responsáveis dos dois países reuniram-se em Abuja, para encontrar consenso a volta dos interesses participativos de algumas companhias petrolíferas nos 5 poços de petróleo.
A segunda reunião do conselho Ministerial Conjunto São Tomé e Príncipe-Nigéria, que decorreu na capital nigeriana 24 e 25 de Maio, é consequência directa da crise que se instalou no país a volta do dossier petróleo, e que só a intervenção do Presidente Nigeriano Olusengo Obasanjo, serviu para acalmar o confronto interno por causa do ouro negro.
A delegação nacional, composta pelos Ministros da Defesa Oscar Sousa , dos Negócios Estrangeiros e Cooperação Ovídeo Pequeno, do Plano e Finanças Adelino Castelo David, e outros membros dos órgãos de soberania deixaram o país em silêncio, a delegação são-tomense recebeu orientações do Conselho Nacional de Petróleo, tendo antes recebido orientações do Conselho Nacional de Petróleo. A missão visa dar corpo ao entendimento criado em São Tomé, com a visita do Presidente Nigeriano.
Num comunicado curto o Ministro dos Negócios Estrangeiros, explicou que a segunda reunião de Abuja visa a revisão das propostas de adjudicação de cada bloco de petróleo, bem como os interesses participativos das empresas concorrentes.
O comunicado acrescentou também que São Tomé e Príncipe adoptou uma nova posição negocial com vista a discussões com a parte nigeriana. O Presidente da República, que tinha anunciado o seu afastamento da liderança do dossier petróleo, voltou no entanto a presidir o Conselho Nacional de petróleo alargado, do passado dia 23.
O Ministro dos Negócios Estrangeiros e Cooperação, Ovídeo Pequeno, que é porta-voz do Conselho Nacional do Petróleo, não explicou a imprensa se Fradique de Menezes tinha reconsiderado a sua posição ou não.
No meio de incertezas e desentendimentos a volta do dossier petróleo os são-tomenses, parecem perder concentração suficientes para tratar de um assunto tão fundamental para o futuro do país. A Nigéria assume-se cada vez mais como o guia, o apaziguador das turbulências provocadas pelo ouro negro no país.
Numa nota de imprensa, a Presidência são-tomense explicou que o Presidente Obasanjo considerou os problemas levantados pelos são-tomenses a volta do dossier petróleo, como sendo de caracter político e não técnico. Segundo a nota, Obasanjo garantiu que foram observados todos os requisitos técnicos para a adjudicação dos 5 poços de petróleo.
A nota sublinha por outro lado, que Olusengo Obasango manifestou desagrado e mal estar, tendo relembrado que o tratado confere apenas aos dois Presidentes os poderes para aprovar ou não aprovar a adjudicação recomendada pelo conselho ministerial conjunto, cabendo às autoridades de cada estado membro no tratado preencher os seus requisitos internos.
Finally, here's a piece from Jornal San Tome, another Portuguese publication, which notes that President Fradique de Menezes is en route to Abuja but misses the big story - his reason for going. The Jornal missed much of the process. This story does note that in the Sao Tome President's group in Abuja were oil minister, Arlindo de Carvalho, finance and planning minister Adelino Castelo David, and foreign affairs minister Ovídio Pequeno:
Fradique de Menezes encontra-se com Olusegun Obasanjo
Petróleo: Presidente são-tomense a caminho da Nigéria
São Tomé - O chefe de Estado são-tomense, Fradique de Menezes, deixou na manhã desta terça-feira o país rumo à Nigéria, onde deverá manter um encontro com o seu homólogo nigeriano, Olusegun Obasanjo, sobre a questão do petróleo, que tem levantado polémica no arquipélago nos últimos tempos devido ao suposto favorecimento de algumas companhias.
Acompanham o Presidente da República de São Tomé e Príncipe os ministros dos Recursos Naturais, Arlindo de Carvalho, de Plano e Finanças, Adelino Castelo David, e dos Negócios Estrangeiros, Ovídio Pequeno.
Esta viagem, que Fradique de Menezes classificou como mais uma «missão», tem como objectivo atender ao pedido que o Presidente Obasanjo havia feito ao chefe de Estado são-tomense no sentido de ser pôr fim às negociações desta segunda licitação de blocos petrolíferos que criou problemas ao país e muitas especulações.
«O Estado são-tomense manifesta-se junto do Estado nigeriano para podermos dar seguimento a este tratado, se não estamos numa situação de bloqueio, e precisamos ir avante com isso», declarou o Presidente são-tomense.
No que concerne à possibilidade de assinar com o seu homólogo nigeriano um acordo de adjudicação directa dos cinco blocos às companhias pretrolíferas que forem seleccionadas, Fradique de Menezes respondeu: «Os Presidentes não assinam, mas aprovam ou não aquilo que for negociado e cabe aos referidos sectores que assinam a conclusão que chegaram».
Segundo o chefe de Estado, há ainda «dúvidas» a esclarecer. «É evidente que a parte são-tomense ainda tem muitas dúvidas, tem problemas em compreender por que é que o grupo tal está no bloco tal e não está no outro. São coisas que mais uma vez iremos falar, mais é necessário darmos sinais de um Estado organizado. Não podermos continuar nisto. Parece que São Tomé e Príncipe é que está a bloquear as coisas».
O tratado de exploração conjunta de petróleo entre a Nigéria e São Tomé e Príncipe foi assinado em Fevereiro de 2001 e estabelece 60% de receitas para os nigerianos e 40% para os são-tomenses.