Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Good News: Sao Tome, Nigeria To Split $283 Million - And Much, Much More; A Review Of World Press Reaction

News stories on the remarkably quiet end to the fractious and sometimes superheated awards process in the Nigeria-Sao Tome and Principe Joint Development Zone have been and will continue to pile up in the coming days. ERHC On The Move is trying to include as many as possible in one place - this article - for future reference.

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
2005-05-31 14:32:24

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.

Inácio Amorim


The Nigeria-Sao Tome and Principe Joint Development Authority have awarded operatorship of Block 2 in the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea to a consortium of ERHC Energy, Devon Energy/Ocean Energy and Pioneer Natural Resources, and Block 4 to a consortium of ERHC Energy and Noble Energy.

The awards have instantly transformed our "minnow" into a substantial player in the world's petroleum industry, and dramatic price gains came with the news.

As day traders took profits during the lunch hour, the price has slipped back to $0.73 from a high of $0.81, but in the next few hours and days as more news emerges of our success and the larger market becomes aware of our price potential, we expect to see gains that dwarf any enjoyed so far.

Update, 4pm, 5/31/05: The closing price is $0.76, with the Bid $0.76 and the Ask $0.77, setting us up for more nice gains tomorrow. The closing volume was a record 13,569,500 shares, and it was climbing so fast all day I could barely keep pace with it. ADVFN reports there were 2,625 trades Tuesday, with 7,579,417 Buys and 5,553,339 Sells and 436,244 shares unidentified. Surprisingly, the last 41 trades were almost evenly divided between Buys and Sells, 21 to 20. There were 82,500 Buys and 75,212 Sells among those last trades, The share price gained $0.13, 0r 20.63 percent, an improvement of $15,995 for the ERHC On The Move portfolio of 120,000 shares.

Update, 3:59pm, 5/31/05: The price is $0.76, the Bid and the Ask is $0.76, with volume at 13,598,800.

Update, 3:57pm, 5/31/05: Looking for a close of $0.76. The price is now $0.75, the Ask, and the Bid is still $0.745. Volume is climbing to 13,481,200.

Update, 3:54pm, 5/31/05: We're better with the Bid at $0.745, the Ask at $0.75 and volume of 13,310,500 shares. The price is $0.745.

Update, 3:52pm, 5/31/05: Day-traders are taking a toll as the price slips to $0.735, the Bid, and the Ask to $0.74. Volume is up a quarter million shares to 13,255,700.

Update, 3:44pm, 5/31/05: The price is $0.745, the Bid is $0.74, and the Ask is $0.746. Volume has climbed 500K to 13,001,900 shares. Per ADVFN 15 minutes ago, there have been 2,444 trades today, with 7,046,875 Buys and 5,042,033 Sells, a Buy-Sell gap of 2 million shares.Some 418,244 shares were unidentified. Virtually all the action was on the Buy side in the last 41 trades.

Update, 3:37pm, 5/31/05: While our partner in Block 4, Noble Energy (NBL) is up $1.09, our Block 2 and Block 3 partner, Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD) is off $0.02, and our other Block 2 and 3 partner, Devon Energy, is off $0.53. That may have something to do with the second-rate Nigerian players we got saddled with in both blocks. So far as we know, the Dow Jones newswire has not yet corrected its reporting of the Block 2 award, which adds up to 105 percent, or clarified the relationship between the Pioneer/EER win of 10 percent and their MOU with ERHE. It may be that "EER" was supposed to be "ERHE," as EER is reportedly broke.

Update, 3:35pm, 5/31/05: The price is $0.745, the Bid, and the Ask is $0.749 as volume hits 12,550,600 shares. We're looking for modest daily gains through Friday.

Update, 3:28pm, 5/31/05: The price is $0.76 as volume climbs to 12,330,800 shares. The Bid and Ask are $0.75 x $0.76.

Update, 3:15pm, 5/31/05: We're starting the 3:15 Surge very close to 12 million shares, with volume at 11,928,500. The price is $0.76, the Bid, and the Ask is $0.755.
Update, 2:54pm, 5/31/05: The price slips back to $0.76, the new Ask, while the Bid stays at $0.755 and volume hits 11,613,500 shares.

Update, 2:52pm, 5/31/05: Volume is 11,612,600 shares and the Bid imporoves to $0.744, while the Ask and the price stay at $0.77.

Update, 2:49pm, 5/31/05: The price is $0.77 and the Bid $0.75, with volume now at 11,590,000 shares and just 40 minutes to go on the first day of trading our minnow-turned-whale.

Update, 2:47pm, 5/31/05: The price is $0.74. A three-cent gap had opened up ($0.74 x $0.77) but the Sellers blinked. Now the Bid and Ask are $0.74 x $0.75 and volume has reached 11,570,000 shares.

Update, 2:43pm, 5/31/05: Volume has climbed 400K in a few minutes to 11,489,500. On ADVFN's 15-minute delay at 2:28pm EDT, there were 2,169 trades today, with 6,092,324 Buys and 4,401,725 Sells. Some 385,000 shares were unidentified.

Update, 2:38pm, 5/31/05: The price is $0.775, and volume hits 11,300,800. The Bid is $0.77 and the Ask is $0.775. This must be the cheapest $5 billion company on Earth right now.

Update, 2:34pm, 5/31/05: Great lunch, and more great news from UpstreamOnline:

*******UPSTREAM NEWS************

Gulf of Guinea blocks awarded

By Upstream staff

Sao Tome and Nigeria have awarded five offshore oil exploration licences, after a controversial five-month delay between the countries due to corruption accusations.

The blocks are located in the deep waters of the Gulf of Guinea.

A consortium of ERHC Energy nabbed a 65% stake and the operatorship of block two, while the operatorship of the highly contested block four was won by a consortium of ERHC Energy and Noble.

Anadarko grabbed a 51% share and the operatorship of block three, the consortium of International Commerce and Communications (ICC) and Oil Exploration Consortium (OEC) got 75% and operatorship of block five, while block six went to Nigerian indie Filtim Huzod which won 85% and operatorship of the acreage.

The first licensing round was suspended after just one exploration contract was awarded for $123 million, to a consortium led by Chevron. The second round went through a bidding stage in December, receiving bids as high as $175 million.

Update, 2:12pm, 5/31/05: The market is catching its breath, and I'm going to lunch. The price is $0.755, the Bid, the Ask is $0.76, and volume is 10,570,000 shares.

Update, 2:06pm, 5/31/05: The price is $0.76, the Ask, and the Bid is $0.755, with volume still rising like crazy and now at 10,546,200.

Update, 2:01pm, 5/31/05: The price goes to the Bid at $0.745 and the volume reaches 10,515,900 shares.

Update, 2pm, 5/31/05: The price is $0.76, with the Bid at $0.745 and the Ask $0.76. Volume is 10,504,400 shares.

Update, 1:57pm, 5/31/05: The price is $0.75 and volume hits 10,423,500 shares.

Update, 1:56pm, 5/31/05: The price is $0.745, and the Ask $0.75, as volume scales to 10,396,000 shares.

Update, 1:53pm, 5/31/05: The Dow Jones story is a bit weird, because it shows
105 percent of Block 2 awarded, and shows Pioneer Natural Resources and Energy Equity Resources with 10 percent in Block 3, while Pioneer has a deal with us to exploit our 25 percent award there. Earlier reports showed our consortium winning 35 percent of Block 3, which makes more sense. The JDA may have released it this way for appearences' sake. In Block 5, no percentage is given for Godsonic, one apparent winner, which judging fromn the math got 5 percent since only 95 percent of the block is listed.

Update, 1:45pm, 5/31/05: Here is the Dow Jones story, at last - it was waiting for me all along at 12:54 from Mike in the Comments section. The blog is being overwhelmed with visitors, probably in the 10,000-visitor range or higher now.

MORE) Dow Jones Newswires

05-31-05 1217ET

DJ Sao Tome Awards 5 Oil Blocks In Second Licensing Round-2-

The first round of licensing offered for deep-water blocks thought by some to hold huge oil reserves was won by a consortium of companies led by Chevron Corp. (CVX).

In all, 26 bids from 23 companies for the five blocks, offered a total $433 million in signature bonuses.

The award process was delayed by five months and marred by allegations of corruption.

Table: JDA Licensing Second Round Results

Block 2

Devon/ERHC 65%

Equator Exploration/ONGC Videsh 15%

A & Hartman Resources 10%

Foby Engineering 10%

Momo Petroleum 5%

Block 3

Anadarko 51%

Devon/ERHC 25%

Pioneer/Energy Equity Resources 10%

Equinox Oil and Gas 10%

Ophir Energy 4%

Block 4

Noble/ERHC 60%

Conoil Producing 20%

Hercules 10%

Godsonic Oil

Atlas Petroleum 5%

Block 5

I.C.C.-O.E.O.C. 75%

ERHC 15%

Sahara Energy 10%

Block 6

Filtim-Huzod 85%

ERHC 15%

-By Shai Oster, Dow Jones Newswires; +44-20-7842-9357; shai.oster@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

05-31-05 1237ET


Update, 1:43pm, 5/31/05: The price is $0.76, at the $0.76 Ask, while the Bid is at $0.755 and the volume has climbed over 10 million to 10,108,100 shares.
Update, 1:38pm, 5/31/05: The price is $0.76, the Ask, while the Bid is $0.765 and volume has climbed to 9,900,600. A second update on the Reuters story doesn't yet update the percentages in all five blocks, so we're still waiting on the Reuters Update 3 for details on the minority winners in each block.
Update, 1:33pm, 5/31/05: The price is $0.745, the Ask and the volume goes to 9,615,700 shares. We're searching for the Dow Jones story.

Update, 1:31pm, 5/31/05: The Bid and Ask move to $0.74 x $0.745 with volume unchanged.

Update, 1:29pm, 5/31/05: The price is $0.735, the Ask, while the Bid is better at $0.731, and volume reaches 9,605,700 shares.
Update, 1:26pm, 5/31/05: The price is $0.725, the Ask, while the Bid is $0.721 and volume soars to 9,496,700 shares.

Update, 1:24pm, 5/31/05: The price is $0.721 and the Ask $0.725 with volume at 9,438,400.

Update, 1:23pm, 5/31/05: We expect a $0.10 run to develop shortly. The price is $0.73, the Bid $0.724, and the Ask $0.735 opn volume of 9,396,799 shares.

Update, 1:21pm, 5/31/05: The price slips to $0.721, the Bid, while the Ask is $0.735 and we hit 9,392,000 shares.

Update, 1:20pm, 5/31/05: The Bid is $0.735, the price $0.744, and the Ask $0.735 as volume reaches 9,356,200 shares.

Update, 1:18pm, 5/31/05: The Bid is at $0.74, the price at $0.735 and the Ask at $0.745 as we hit 9,257,200 shares of colume.

Update, 1:16pm, 5/31/05: The price is $0.735, the Ask, with the Bid at $0.731 and volume at 9,223,100 shares - something like 100K shares a minute for a long time now.>br>
Update, 1:11pm, 5/31/05: Volume hits 9,066,600 with the price at $0.741, while the Bid slips to $0.731 and the Ask to $0.735.

Update, 1:09pm, 5/31/05: The price is $0.745, and the Bid and Ask are $0.743 x $0.745, with volume at 8,938,600 shares.

Update, 1:02pm, 5/31/05: The price is $0.74, the Bid, while the Ask is $0.745 as short-sighted day-traders exit with a $$0.10 - $0.15 gain. Volume is 8,563,500.

Update, 1pm, 5/31/05: The price is $0.745, the Bid and the Ask is $0.75 as volume hits 8,513,500 shares.

Update, 12:58pm, 5/31/05: Dow Jones is reportedly moving a breakdown of percentages in each block. We await it eagerly, as the price slips to $0.75 and the Ask to $0.755. Volume is 8,452,700, and we expect another boost when the DJ story circulates.

Update, 12:52pm, 5/31/05: Now is a good time to go to the Raging Bull board and read posters like Balance Builder, who will try to steer you right on events and prices. Some investors there can be trusted, but it's a dangerous swamp, so be careful. The price is $0.77, and the Bid and Ask are $0.765 x $0.77. Volume is just soaring incredibly and is now at 8,345,200 shares.

Update, 12:51pm, 5/31/05: The price is $0.755 as traders start to trickle back in from lunch and the volume continues to climb rapidly, now at 8,035,700 shares.

Update, 12:47pm, 5/31/05: The price is $0.762, the Bid, while the Ask slips to $0.765 and volume reaches 7,891,600 shares. We hope you're around for the Surge.

Update, 12:46pm, 5/31/05: The price is $0.774 and the Bid slips to $0.76 and rises to $0.77 and the Ask goes to $0.774 on volume of 7,827,900.

Update, 12:42pm, 5/31/05: We're starting to bounce again, with the price $0.776, the Ask $0.78 and volume 7,712.400.

Update, 12:42pm, 5/31/05: We're starting to bounce again, with the price $0.776, the Ask $0.78 and volume 7,712.400.

Update, 12:38pm, 5/31/05: As some day traders take profits early, the price slips to $0.77, the Bid, and the Ask to $0.772, on volume of 7.440,200 shares. The volume shows no sign of slowing down. Long-term investors have predicted in the past that as many as 40 million shares could trade on this day. We don't think that will happen, but we'll guess 12 million before the end of the day.

Update, 12:34pm, 5/31/05: The price slips to $0.785, up $0.155 for the day, with the Bid and Ask at $0.785 x $0.79 and volume at 7,244,500 shares. For investors, the price declines and peaks are familiar from the run-ups of last October and the summer of 2003, when awards were also expected but not made. The pphenomenon is likely to keep on happening all through the day, and the share price is likely to improve all week. We have won approximately 4 billion barrels of oil, after all.

Update, 12:31pm, 5/31/05: We hit 7 million volume, with the price at $0.80, the Bid at $0.802 and the Ask at $0.803, and volume at 7,067,400.

Update, 12:29pm, 5/31/05: The price is $080, the Ask $0.805, and volume is 6,688,800 shares. The Bid is $0.801.

Here is the very latest update from Reuters at 12:07, from the Yahoo board:

UPDATE 1-Nigeria-Sao Tome award five offshore oil blocks
Tue May 31, 2005 12:07 PM ET
(Updates with details)
ABUJA, May 31 (Reuters) - Sao Tome and Nigeria awarded five offshore oil exploration licences on Tuesday after a turbulent five-month delay plagued by disagreements between the countries and accusations of corruption.

A consortium of ERHC Energy (ERHE.OB: Quote, Profile, Research) and Devon (DEV.N: Quote, Profile, Research) won a 65 percent stake and the operatorship of block two, while the operatorship of block four, the other most highly contested block, was won by a consortium of ERHC Energy and Noble.

Anadarko (APC.N: Quote, Profile, Research) won a 51 percent share and the operatorship of block three, the consortium of International Commerce and Communications (ICC) and Oil Exploration Consortium (OEC) got 75 percent and operatorship of block five, while block six went to Filtim Huzod which secured 85 percent and operatorship of the acreage.

The Joint Development Authority announced the winners after Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo and Sao Tome's Fradique de Menezes endorsed the recommendations of the ministerial council at a meeting in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, the JDA said.

The offshore blocks are in the deep waters of the Gulf of Guinea, one of the world's exploration hotspots since a series of huge oil discoveries over the last decade.

Update, 12:24pm, 5/31/05: Slipping suddenly to $0.795, with the Bid at $0.791 and the Ask $0.795. Volume is 6,233,800.

Update, 12:20pm, 5/31/05: We're at $0.81 now, and the ERHC portfolio is up $22,147 on the day. The Bid and Ask at $0.809 x $0.808, and volume is an incredible 6,124,700.

Update, 12:07pm, 5/31/05: The price improves to $0.765, the Ask, with volume at 4,983,600 moving faster than I can type. The Ask is $0.76.

Update, 12:04pm, 5/31/05: This stock is flying out the door, but the price is lagging behind interest as volume hits 4,674,800 and the price remains $0.735, with the Bid $0.736 and the Ask $0.738. Nonetheless, the 3:15 Surge this afternoon ought to be a regular force of nature.

Update, 12pm, 5/31/05: The price is $0.745, the Ask, and the Bid is $0.74, with volume over 4 million at 4,272,700.

Update, 11:52am, 5/31/05: The price is $0.73, and volume is 200K higher at 3,706,900, while the Bid and Ask are $0.725 x $0.73. This day has a long way to go.

Update, 11:50am, 5/31/05: The price is $0.707, the Ask, while the Bid is $0.706, and colume hits 3,449,000 shares. That's almost half a million shares in a couple of minutes.

Update, 11:44am, 5/31/05: The price is $0.70, and volume crosses the 3 million mark to 3,008,000. The Ask is $0.704, and the Bid $0.70.

Update, 11:42am, 5/31/05: The market has begun to respond, pushing the price to the high of the day, $0.695, on volume of 2,806,300 shares.

Update, 11:28am, 5/31/05: OFFICIAL WORD FROM REUTERS:

ABUJA, May 31 (Reuters) - Sao Tome and Nigeria awarded five offshore oil exploration licences on Tuesday after a turbulent five-month delay plagued by disagreements between the countries and accusations of corruption.

A consortium of ERHC Energy ERHE and Devon DEV won a 65 percent stake and the operatorship of block two, while the operatorship of block four, the other most highly contested block, was won by a consortium of ERHC Energy and Noble.

((Reporting by Felix Onuah and Tume Ahemba, Editing by Brian Killen; Reuters Messaging: tume.ahemba.reuters.com@reuters.net; tel: +234 1 263 1943))

Update, 11:28am, 5/31/05: We're settling down now, hoping for an official announcement at the close of business, which is 5pm in Abuja and 12:00pm here. However, the Nigerians seem to like an evening celebration, so I'm betting the news - if it comes as indicated - will be released around 8pm Abuja time, or 3pm here in the Eastern United States. The price is $0.66, the Ask, while the Bid is $0.65. Volume is 2,293,500 shares.

Update, 11:14am, 5/31/05: Awaiting confirmation of the news we just reported, the price has started slipping to $0.675 after hitting $0.685 on current volume of 2,045,600 shares. The Bid and Ask ar $0.671 x $0.675.

Update, 11:11am, 5/31/05: Word has come from the JDA to thedaneslapper via a phone call from them that the awards have been released. More ASAP. Don't you love these three-day weekends?

From Mark - Sec of JDA just called and Awards were just announced. ERHE in 2 and 4. ALL 5 blocks Awarded

Update, 11:04am, 5/31/05: The price has soared in the past few minutes to $0.68 on volume of 1,675,912 shares.

Update, 10:55am, 5/31/05: The price is $0.585, the Ask, and the Bid is $0,58 as volume hits 953,405 shares. We issue the following Alert: There has been a substantial change of cirumstances following the most recent delays in Sao Tome, and there is a genuine chance that, as President de Menezes meets for several hours with Presdent Obasanjo today, that the awards document will be signed. That would in all likelihood catalyze an enormous reversal in the downward slide of share price in frenzied buying. While that outcome cannot be guaranteed, it follows from De Menezes' expressed desire to bring the awards process to an end that - since he is the only hold-up - this resolution could occur today. While it is more likely that whatever modifications are made to the awards would not benefit ERHC Energy, it could well be that they would affect only the so-called Nigerian "indies," such as Momo Petroleum, Godsonic and Conoil. In that case, with agreement from the Sao Tome and Princiope opposition, awards could occur shortly. We believe these developments merit a Hold and Accumulate position on ERHE now.

Update, 10:54am, 5/31/05: Here are an English machine translation and the Portuguese original of the latest Lusa story from Sao Tome - a solid confirmation of what we've heard, posted by the proprietor of www.greatsprings.net/erhc, dadd17:
NEWS http://noticias.uol.com.br/ultnot/lusa/2005/05/31/ult611u63392.jhtm 31/05/2005 - 11h01 Is Tomé: PR are -tomense go to the Nigéria to decide problems on oil Are Tomé, 31 Mai (Lusa) - the president of Is Tomé and Príncipe, Fradique de Menezes, left today for Abuja (Nigéria), where he goes to congregate with its homologous Nigerian, Olusegun Obasanjo, in an attempt to decide divergences on the adjudication of the blocks of oil in the zone of joint exploration. The announcement of the meeting was made by president Fradique de Menezes, moments before leaving the international airport of Is Tomé with destination the Abuja for a sojourn of some hours. Beyond the process of auction of five blocks, Menezes it said the journalists that she will try next to its homologous Nigerian to unblock the relative question to the transference of the resultant value of the first adjudication to a petroliferous North American. "I go to find me with Olusegun Obasanjo to arrive at the end of these negotiations of as auction of blocks", affirmed Fradique de Menezes, adding will also go to decide the relative question to the first auction. The trip of the head of State is -tomense appears in the sequência of the two last meetings of the Joint Ministerial Advice of Oil between the two countries, that had resulted unfruitful due to agreement on the proposals in the picture of the adjudication of the five blocks in cause. Also to try to exceed the divergences in the meetings of the Ministerial Advice, carried through in the capital Nigerian, president Olusegun Obasanjo was, has few days, but without success, in one visits lightning to the capital is -tomense. The discord is arrested with the criterion of selecção of the competing companies to the blocks, with Is Tomé and Príncipe, of a side, to defend proposals monetary of petrolígeras, opposing the position of the Nigéria that gives priority to the time established for the oil production. In relation to the sum still for transferring, São-Tomé and Principe wait to receive 49 million dollar of the 123 resultant million of the adjudication of a block in ends of 2004 to the petroliferous company North American Chevrom-Texaco in would seem Exxonnopil. Signed in February of 2001, the treated one to joint exploration of oil establishes 60 percent of prescriptions for the 40 Nigéria and percent for Are Tomé and Príncipe.

31/05/2005 - 11h01
São Tomé: PR são-tomense vai à Nigéria para resolver problemas sobre petróleo

São Tomé, 31 Mai (Lusa) - O presidente de São Tomé e Príncipe, Fradique de Menezes, partiu hoje para Abuja (Nigéria), onde vai reunir- se com o seu homólogo nigeriano, Olusegun Obasanjo, numa tentativa de resolver divergências sobre a adjudicação dos blocos de petróleo na zona de exploração conjunta.

O anúncio da reunião foi feito pelo presidente Fradique de Menezes, momentos antes de deixar o aeroporto internacional de São Tomé com destino a Abuja para uma estada de algumas horas.

Além do processo de leilão de cinco blocos, Menezes disse aos jornalistas que tentará junto do seu homólogo nigeriano desbloquear a questão relativa à transferência do valor resultante da primeira adjudicação a uma petrolífera norte-americana.

"Vou encontrar-me com Olusegun Obasanjo para chegarmos ao fim destas negociações do segundo leilão de blocos", afirmou Fradique de Menezes, acrescentando irá também resolver a questão relativa ao primeiro leilão.

A viagem do chefe de Estado são-tomense surge na sequência das duas últimas reuniões do Conselho Ministerial Conjunto de Petróleo entre os dois países, que resultaram infrutíferas por falta de entendimento sobre as propostas no quadro da adjudicação dos cinco blocos em causa.

Também para tentar ultrapassar as divergências nas reuniões do Conselho Ministerial, realizadas na capital nigeriana, o presidente Olusegun Obasanjo esteve, há poucos dias, mas sem sucesso, numa visita relâmpago à capital são-tomense.

A discórdia prende-se com o critério de selecção das empresas concorrentes aos blocos, com São Tomé e Príncipe, de um lado, a defender uma propostas monetária das petrolígeras, contrariando a posição da Nigéria que dá prioridade ao tempo estabelecido para a produção de petróleo.

Em relação ao montante ainda por transferir, São-Tomé e Principe espera receber 49 milhões de dólares dos 123 milhões resultantes da adjudicação de um bloco em finais de 2004 à empresa petrolífera norte-americana Chevrom-Texaco em pareceria com Exxonnopil.

Assinado em Fevereiro de 2001, o tratado de exploração conjunta de petróleo estabelece 60 por cento das receitas para a Nigéria e 40 por cento para São Tomé e Príncipe.


Update, 10:41am, 5/31/05: We're back to $0.585 but haven't sold any shares, per Money.net. Not sure how that happens.

Update, 10:40am, 5/31/05: The price slips to $0.575, below the $0.58 Bid, as volume closes in on 900K at 899,905.

Update, 10:38am, 5/31/05: The price improves to $0.585, the Ask, while the Bid stays at $0.576. Volume is 884,905.

Update, 10:36am, 5/31/05: The Bid slips back to $0.576, a tenth of a cent over the low of the day. The Ask is $0.585, and volume is on the move again, now to 878,905.

Update, 10:33am, 5/31/05: We're at $0.58, the Bid, with volume at 842,305 and the Ask lower at $0.585. I wonder if President de Menezes brought the awards document with him? Meanwhile, there's a general strike going on in Sao Tome as civil service workers demand a 340 percent increase in the minimum wage, to $100 a month from $30. How do you live on $30 a month? Barely, we suspect.

Update, 10:23am, 5/31/05: We're at $0.59, off $0.04, as volume moves far more slowly with traders awaiting the outcome in Abuja. It's now 833,215 shares, and the Bid is lower at $0.58, with the Ask still at $0.59.

Update, 10:23am, 5/31/05: The volume is 815,807, and the meeting in Abuja has been confirmed by an RDP Africa radio report from Homeport. The price is $0.585, the ABid, and the Ask is still $0.59.

Update, 10:19am, 5/31/05: The price is $0.59, with volume at 807,807 - hello, hello. The Bid is still at $0.585 while the Ask is lower at $0.59.

Update, 10:13am, 5/31/05: The price is $0.585, the Bid, with volume at 800,807, and the Ask at $0.60. I just had a chance to check Raging Bullfor updates, and there's one (a Comment below) from thedaneslapper that suggests President Fradique de Menezes is winging his way to Abuja to chat with President Obasanjo there. At least he's gong in the right direction:


Just spoke with JDA (source did not want to be named) and they confirmed Menezes is meeting with Obi today. I asked if awards were today and all they would tell me is to call back later today for update. That's all for now. Will update later hopefull.

Update, 10:04am, 5/31/05: We hit 700K, with the price $0.585, the Bid, and the Ask at $0.595, on volume of 711,507.

Update, 10:02am, 5/31/05: After a strong shake, it looks like volume is slowing for the moment as we stand $0.595, off $0.035.

Update, 9:59am, 5/31/05: We're at $0.595 again, improving, with the Bid and Ask $0.585 x $0.595 and volume hitting 689,857.

Update, 9:54am, 5/31/05: The price is $0.576, the volume is 648,907 with the Bid and Ask unchanged. We're off 8.5 percent.

Update, 9:53am, 5/31/05: The price is $0.576, with volume now 615,559, and the Bid falling to $0.576 and the Ask at $0.58.

Update, 9:49am, 5/31/05: The price is $0.58, on volume of 583,959, with the Bid and Ask $0.58 x $0.59.

Update, 9:46am, 5/31/05: Volume is over 500K at 519,971 and we're at $0.60.

Update, 9:44am, 5/31/05: With volume at a fast-paced 476,071, we're off $0.02 at $0.61. There must be tremendous buying support at this level or we'd have seen the $0.60s vanish in the heavy volume.

Update, 9:40am, 5/31/05: We're at $0.61, improving, on volume of 454,071, with the Bid $0.60 and the Ask $0.61.

Update, 9:38am, 5/31/05: We're off $0.03, less than expected, on volume of 433,471. Money.net has chosen this moment to stop working.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Not-So-Latest From Sao Tome - In French And English

Update: Here is a another English-language piece from Agence France-Presse based on the French one below and adding a quiote from Nigerian officials at the bottom:
Promise of oil sparks fights

May 30 2005 at 03:33PM


São Tomé -- The tiny West African island state of São Tomé and Príncipe is beginning to tear itself apart ahead of a promised oil boom that could transform one of the poorest countries in the world.

Giant neighbour Nigeria has expressed concern over a delay in awarding five oil exploration contracts in the offshore development zone it has created on a 60-40 basis with the twin island archipelago in the Gulf of Guinea.

Only one block has so far been attributed, in February, when it was awarded to US oil companies ChevronTexaco and Exxon-Mobil, plus the Nigerian and Norwegian consortium, Equity Energy Resources.

It enabled São Tomé's parliament to approve the largest budget in the country's history, totalling $96,2-million (about R634-million) and including oil revenue, of $49,2-million, for the first time.

Government wants to spend the money on health and education

Fired up by the prospect, state employees began a week-long strike on Monday, closing ministries, hospitals and other services and virtually every school in support of a pay rise after talks with the government broke down.

They are seeking an increase in the minimum monthly salary from $30 to $100, while the government has offered $40, and have threatened to bring the country to a halt from the end of this week if their demands are not met.

But the government says $8-million of the windfall will be spent on priority projects including health and education, with the rest being needed for debt repayments.

On the political front, already poor relations between the main component in the ruling coalition, the São Tomé and Príncipe Liberation Movement-Social Democrat Party (MLSTP-PSD) and President Fradique de Menezes have worsened.

A month ago the head of the MLSTP-PSD-dominated parliament's oil commission, Carlos Neves, hit out at the procedure for attributing the five blocks, saying there had been "serious errors which harm the interests" of the country.

'Avoidable delays have been experienced'

He claimed certain oil companies had been favoured and attacked the alleged role of some presidential aides, notably Menezes' chief of staff who was accused of links to one company in particular.

Menezes yielded, sidelining the official from oil negotiations, but then found himself under attack for his own handling of the oil issue.

"We don't know what criteria have been used for awarding of the various blocks," said MLSTP-PSD spokesperson Carlos Tiny, demanding a judicial inquiry.

"Some companies were ruled out at the technical stage but are still being given a share."

Menezes retorted that problems had emerged because of agreements signed before he became president in 2001, but the row grew more bitter when he sacked his oil adviser, Patrice Trovoada, head of a smaller party in the ruling coalition.

Natural Resources Minister Arlindo Carvalho, a member of Trovoada's party, responded by handing in his resignation, which the president refused, on the grounds that negotiations over attributing further exploration blocks were in full swing.

Last week Nigeria's Deputy Foreign Minister Abubakar Tanko told a meeting of the neighbours' joint ministerial council that "nothing has been achieved due to undue politicisation of what should be a purely technical matter.

"Avoidable delays have been experienced in the awarding of blocks in this round."

"It is pertinent to note that the more delays that are experienced, the more the credibility of this laudable partnership and brotherhood is eroded, which I believe is not in the best interest of our governments and people," he warned.

"If we continue to allow extraneous factors to guide our thoughts and decisions, it will seriously affect the bond of our partnership and our brotherhood which had started becoming the envy of many countries with similar situations," he said.

Tanko's warning came two days after Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo made a lightning visit to the archipelago. Sources close to his São Tomé counterpart said he had "knocked heads together" in a bid to cool tensions. - Sapa-AFP

By Anonymous, at 12:14 PM

I won't have time to translate all of this for you, but get your kids to do it - most of them have at least a year of French! It's from Agence France-Presse, which is a reliable and uninvolved news agency. I notice in the first glance at it that it seems to be repeating the demand of Carlo Tiny of the MLSTP that the awards process go to the courts.

Now that I have had time to read it, the article seems to have missed the occurrence of the second meeting of the JMC, and is merely recapping all that went before.
There appears to be nothing new in it. There are several machine translations in the Comments section. Ou sont mon Pierette, mon Claudine?

Note that the earlier story, in French, has some different people quoted in it:

Sao Tomé et Principe en proie à la fièvre pétrolière,

Avant même d'avoir extrait son premier baril de brut,
l'archipel de Sao Tomé et Principe se déchire déjà
autour de son or noir, sujet d'une polémique qui
oppose depuis plusieurs semaines le président à son
opposition autour de l'attribution des puits de

Pauvre parmi les pauvres, le petit pays du Golfe de
Guinée attend depuis des années avec impatience ses
premiers pétrodollars. Longtemps retardés par un
différend frontalier avec le Nigeria voisin, les
premiers revenus pétroliers ont enfin été inclus dans
le budget 2005 de l'Etat santoméen, après
l'adjudication en février d'un premier bloc de la zone
conjointe entre les deux pays.

Cinq autres blocs devaient être rapidement attribués
et consacrer l'entrée officielle de Sao Tomé dans le
club jalousé des pays producteurs de pétrole. Mais
depuis quelques semaines, l'or noir et ses promesses
de richesse font tourner la tête des responsables du

Tout a commencé fin avril lorsque le principal parti
de la coalition gouvernementale, le Mouvement de
libération de Sao Tomé et Principe-Parti
social-démocrate (MLSTP-PSD), a critiqué le processus
d'attribution de ces cinq blocs, qualifié de

"Il y a dans ce processus de graves erreurs de
procédure qui affectent les intérêts de Sao Tomé", a
déploré le président de la commission pétrolière de
l'Assemblée, à majorité MLSTP-PSD, Carlos Nevès.

Et de dénoncer les droits octroyés à certaines
compagnies pétrolières en vertu d'accords passés et le
rôle jugé "trouble" de certains proches du président
Fradique de Menezes, particulièrement celui de son
directeur de cabinet accusé d'avoir des intérêts dans
une compagnie pétrolière.

Après quelques jours de polémique, le chef de l'Etat a
finalement décidé d'écarter son collaborateur des
négociations pétrolières. Mais l'incendie est reparti
de plus belle lorsque le MLSTP-PSD, en guerre larvée
avec le président depuis son arrivée au pouvoir en
2001, a mis en cause sa gestion personnelle du

"On ne sait quel sont les critères utilisés pour
l'attribution des différents blocs. Certaines
compagnies ont été exclues lors de l'examen technique
mais ont malgré tout bénéficié de parts", s'est étonné
le porte-parole du MLSTP-PSD, Carlos Tiny, avant de
demander l'ouverture d'une enquête judiciaire sur la

Le chef de l'Etat a vivement réagi et affirmé devant
la presse que "les problèmes (du dossier pétrolier)
sont apparus à cause des accords signés avant (son)
entrée en fonction".

Loin de se calmer, la polémique a atteint son
paroxysme lorsque le président de Menezes a congédié
son conseiller pour les affaires pétrolières Patrice
Trovoada, par ailleurs secrétaire général d'un parti
de la coalition gouvernementale qui lui est opposée,
pour avoir évoqué les "nuages" qui obscurcissent le
dossier pétrolier.

Membre du même parti, le ministre des Ressources
naturelles Arlindo Carvalho a riposté le 16 mai en
présentant sa démission. Le président l'a refusée, au
motif que l'Autorité conjointe Sao Tomé-Nigeria était
est en pleine négociation sur l'adjudication des

Il aura finalement fallu la visite éclair à Sao Tomé,
dimanche dernier, du président nigérian Olusegun
Obasanjo et, selon des sources proches de la
présidence santoméenne, un rappel à l'ordre "musclé"
pour que la fièvre de l'or noir qui s'est emparée de
l'archipel retombe. Provisoirement.

Début mai, un défenseur des droits civiques dans la
province angolaise de Cabinda en visite sur l'archipel
avait mis en garde ses hôtes contre la "malédiction"
du pétrole. "Les politiciens feront de ce pétrole leur
richesse personnelle", avait dit Raul Danda,
"réservant à la population le cauchemar de la misère".

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Nigeria, Sao Tome Feuded Over Priorities, Lusa Says

The dispute that ended the Nigeria-Sao Tome and Principe Joint Ministerial Council meeting on awards for the second licensing round of blocks in the two nations' Joint Development Zone Thursday was over priorities, a source told the Portuguese news agency Lusa, but the source felt the two heads of state would "probably" work the issue out between themselves - as paragraph 48 of the the 2001 Abuja Declaration directs them to do when there is a disagreement - within 15 days.

The priorities, of course, were whether the Joint Development Authority should accept the highest bidder or the best "technical" bid, meaning the one most likely to acomplish a quick return of oil royalties to the two countries, the source told Lusa, as reported here several weeks ago in the face of scathing criticism.

In another news report, Sao Tome Natural Resources minister Arlindo de Carvalho told a radio station that arrangements had been made for a quick payment of the $49 million, but the oil minister added that the dispute over the awards remains on the table.

The meeting ended without agreement on that point, according to the source that talked to Lusa - contradicting the communique issued by the Joint Ministerial Council Secretariat Friday afternoon - and now the two heads of state, President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and President Fradique de Menezes of Portugal, will probably resolve it within 15 days, said the source said, who demanded anonymity.

That may happen, but history doesn't indicate it will. If it does, it now appears the reason may be the demand by Nigeria that Sao Tome pay its share of $15 million in costs run up by the Joint Development Authority, which must be paid for out of signature bonus fees paid to the two countries. A $49 million bonus fee awaits Sao Tome in a Nigerian bank, Nigerian deputy foreign Minister Abubakar Tanko said last week, if and when they do sign the awards document.

However, no money would go to Sao Tome from that sum if it has to pay its share of costs and also repay a recent $44 million loan from Nigeria meant to tide them through the delays caused by ExxonMobil's lengthy cnsideration of its rights in the JDZ.

Here is my translation of the original story in Portuguese:

27/05/2005 - 3:15pm
São Tomé: Nigéria e São Tomé em desacordo sobre venda de blocos de petróleo

Sao Tome and Nigeria in Disagreement Over Sale Of Oil Blocks

São Tomé, 27 Mai (Lusa) -- A Nigéria e São Tomé e Príncipe discordam sobre o processo de adjudicação de blocos de petróleo de uma zona de exploração conjunta entre os dois países, revelou hoje à Lusa fonte oficial.

Nigeria and Sao Tome are in diagreement over the the process of awarding blocks of oil in a joint exploration zone between the two countries, an official source revealed to Lusa today.

Segundo uma fonte do conselho petrolífero do arquipélago que pediu anonimato, a reunião iniciada terça-feira em Abuja, capital da Nigéria, entre as autoridades do petróleo dos dois países, foi infrutífera, por falta de entendimento entre as partes sobre as propostas para a licitação de cinco blocos da zona de comum acordo de exploração.

According to the source on the national petroleum council who demanded anonymity, a meeting that began Tuesday in Abuja, the Nigeran capital, between the authorites on petroleum from both countries, was fruitless, as it failed to reach an understanding between the parties on bids in the auction of five blocks of their agreed-upon exploration zone.

A mesma fonte sublinhou que não tendo o conselho ministerial de exploração conjunto resolvido a questão de desentendimento entre as partes, a decisão será, provavelmente, tomada dentro de quinze dias pelos chefes de Estado, Olusengu Obasanjo da Nigéria e Fradique de Menezes de São Tomé e Príncipe.

The same source stressed that while the Joint Ministerial Council had not resolved the questions in disagreement between the countries, there will probably be a decision within fifteen days by the heads of state, Olusengu Obasanjo of Nigeria and Fradique de Menezes of Sao Tome and Principe.

A fonte acrescentou que a discórdia prende-se com o critério de selecção de empresas concorrentes aos blocos, com São Tomé e Príncipe, de um lado, a defender a proposta monetária apresentada pelas petrolíferas, contrariando a posição da Nigéria que dá prioridade ao tempo estabelecido para produção do petróleo.

The source added that the discord was fanned by the criteria for selection of companies competing for the blocks, with Sao Tome and Principem on one side preferring the monetary bids offered for the oil, and with Nigeria in a contrary position saying that the priority should be based on the time needed to produce the oil.

A mesma fonte referiu ainda que, como forma de pressionar a parte são-tomense a ceder, a Nigéria teria apresentado um ultimato a São Tomé e Príncipe para pagar uma divida de cerca de 15 milhões de dólares resultante dos serviços da autoridade conjunta de exploração entre os dois Países.

The same source revealed that as a form of pressure on the Sao Tome side ro yield, Nigeria had presented to Sao Tome an ultimatum to pay its share of nearly $15 million resulting from the serviceces of the Joint Development Authority of the two countries.

A delegação ministerial de São Tomé e Príncipe, que regressou esta tarde desta falhada missão petrolífera em Abuja, não prestou qualquer informação à imprensa, relegando os jornalistas para uma posterior comunicação ao país.

The ministerial delegation that returned to Sao Tome and Principe this afternoon from the failed oil mission in Abuja would not lend any insights to the press, directing journalists to a later national address.

Além do ministro dos Recursos Naturais, Arlindo de Carvalho, integraram a delegação são-tomense, o ministro dos Negócios Estrangeiros, Ovídio Pequeno, o ministro da Defesa, Óscar Sousa, o ministro de Plano e Finanças, Adelino Castelo David, e um assessor do Presidente da República para o sector petrolífero.

Beyond the minister of the Natural Resources, Arlindo de Carvalho, included in the Sao Tome delegation were Minister of Foreign Commerce Ovidio Pequeno, Minister of Defense Oscar Sousa, the Minister of Planning and Finance Adelineo Castelo David, and the advisor to the President of the Republic on the petroleum sector.

Esta reunião sem êxito que aconteceu quatro dias depois do Presidente da Nigéria, Olusengu Obasanjo, ter efectuado uma visita relâmpago a São Tomé e Príncipe, surgiu na sequência de um pedido da parte são-tomense no sentido de se rever o processo de adjudicação de blocos da zona de sobreposição.

The unsuccessful meeting happened four days after Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo had put in motion a stormy meeting in Sao Tome and Principe at the request of the Sao Tomese, who felt strongly that the award of the of blocks in the zone had to be reversed.

Há quase duas semanas, as autoridades de São Tomé e Príncipe, sobretudo, a Assembleia Nacional, exortaram o Governo de Damião Vaz Almeida a rever as propostas do documento antes da conclusão do processo de adjudicação de blocos face à denúncia de irregularidades.

It's been two weeks since authorities on Sao Tome and Principe, especially the National Assembly, implored the government of Prime Minister Damiao Vas d'Almeida to reject the bid document before completing the process of awarding the blocks in the facce of criticism of irregularities.

A denúncia de irregularidades na adjudicação de blocos foi tornada pública há três semanas na capital de São Tomé através da imprensa por alegado favoritismo de petrolíferas, nas quais, alguns dirigentes são-tomenses são accionistas, envolvendo figuras próximas do Presidente da República, Fradique de Menezes.

The criticism of irregularities in the award of the oil blocks has generated a public tempest in the press for three weeks in the Sao Tome capital over allegations of favoritis, springing from t some Sao Tomese directors and shareholdders involved who are close to the President of the Republic, Fradique de Menezes.

No âmbito da polémica instalada em São Tomé, o Movimento Libertação de São Tomé e Príncipe-Partido Social-democrata (MLSTP-PSD) no governo acusou o Presidente Fradique de Menezes de estar a violar a lei-quadro das receitas de petróleo em benefício próprio.

In the ambience of controversy prevailing in Sao Tome, the ruling Movement for the Liberation of Sao Tome and Princiope and the Social Democratic Party accused President Fradique de Menezes of violating the law by having benefitted himself from oil revenues.

Assinado em Fevereiro de 2001, o tratado de exploração conjunta entre os dois Países estabelece 60 por cento de receitas para Nigéria e 40 para São Tomé e Príncipe.

Signed in February of 2001, the joint exploration treaty between the two countries provides that 60 percent of the revenues go to Nigeria and 40 percent to Sao Tome and Principe.

Friday, May 27, 2005

JMC Secretariat Asks 'More Patience' From Stakeholders As It Seeks "Speedy Endorsements'; Two Posts From Homeport In Trading Updates Suggest Bad News

JDA Communique, Page 2

Page 2 says the Joint Ministerial Council delegates from both countries "harmonized" on all the blocks, and asks "more patience" of stakeholders as it makes "spirited efforts" to obtain signatures.

Update, 5/27/05, 3:59: Although we are keeping our 120,000 shares, we recommend to anyone who may need their money with the next month or two to sell, as there appears to be a long, drawn-out process much like the last one ahead for us. Thus, the advice below is no longer operative, having been overtaken by Radio Africa RDP news reports of the Prime Minister's statements on Sao Tome radio.

Sorting Out The News

There's an awful lot of confusion, as always; today, it's about the Communique from the Joint Ministerial Council Secretariat this morning and three articles from UpstreamOnline, Reuters and the Dow Jones Newswires. What do they add up to?

First, as I said in the preceding article (just updated), I think that the reporters are taking anything the JDA says with a grain of salt, having been burned too many times by bad information they went to press with; their editors are probably furious that their news organizations have bween wrong so many times about the where and when of awards.

The reporters state the facts: 1) that there was no announcement of awards; and 2) that the JMC Secretariat statement did not promise an announcement at any specific time. So they did their job; the headlines merely reinforce what they said, that there was a meeting and that no awards came from it, and that the results of the meeting have been forwarded to the two heads of state for signature.

Second, we did get word via a Comment that Obasanjo has returned from Paris and signed the awards document.
Third, we believe that the surge in EEL's price on the London AIM today is evidence that ADI party leader Patrice Trovoada got at least some of what he wanted, so that he and his party will join with the MDFM, their Christian Democrat allies and move the awards forward in the National Petroleum Council, the National Petroleum Agency and Parliament. It should be noted that unless there was a very substantial change, the first two bodies have already seen and approved the awards with caveats that were addressed by the second meeting, and in fact may not have to see them again. It's difficult to be sure on that point.

Fourth, we think the MLSTP, the ruling party whose Damaio vaz de Alemida is Sao Tome's Prime Minister, has also gotten what it wanted - a thoroughgoing embarrassment of the de Menezes presidency through the resignations of himself and two others (one of which was rejected) and the firing of Patrice Trovoada. If they will have calculated correctly, they have done all the damage they can do to the de Menezes candidacy without also bankrupting the country for the next several years, and inheriting a shell of a nation when they next seize the top spot.

It is my very firm belief, then, that action on the awards will be forthcoming within the Memorial Day Weekend, and that the awards will become known by Tuesday night at the very latest; I don't think they will wait until Tuesday, however.
Along with dozens of others, I have been wrong before about these awards and their timing, but I have not felt more certain than I do now that they are due within three days.

Trading Updates: We Recommend A Sell, But Are Not Selling Ourselves

The share price of ERHC Energy (OTC BB symbol: ERHE) broke away from yesterday's close and began climbing this morning after Nigerian and Sao Tome officials indicated they had finally reached agreement on block awards and were awaiting signatures from Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and Sao Tome and Principe's President Fradique de Menezes.

A story from UpstreamOnline like one from Reuters said the awards meeting of the Nigeria-DRSTP Joint Ministerial Council ended yesterday with the delegates from both countries, who are slated to share oil royalties from their Joint Development Zone in the Gulf of Guinea on a 60:40 basis, "harmonized" on who wins and sending the awards document to their respective leaders for signatures.

A two-page communique from the parties says the same thing. Here is Page 1:

JDA Communique on Block Awards
Right-click on Page 1, above, and select "Open Link" to view it in a larger size. Page 2 says the delegates from both countries "harmonized" on all the blocks, and asks "more patience" of stakeholders as it makes "spirited efforts" to obtain signatures.

Trading Updates

Update, 5/27/05, 5:33pm EDT: The sellers obviously dominated today, but in the last 41 trades the Buys outpaced Sells 25 to 16, with some $88,000 Buys and 63,000 Sells. The very last trade was a Form T after-hours Sell of 9,500 shares, and the preceding two last trades in normal trading were Buys of 3,000 and 1,000. The Buys for the day totaled 1,062,027 shares, and the Sells totaled 1,645,291 shares, with 69,908 unidentified. It's incredible how closely this selloff resembles that of the collapse at this time last year, although this time around the share price ended on an uptick at $0.63. The one after-hours Form T sale went off at $0.62, however; the low of the day was $0.60, while the high reached $0.70 early in the day.

Update, 5/27/05, 4:02pm EDT: The closing price is $0.63, the Ask, and the Bid is at $0.62. Final volume sounds lucky, but it isn't: 2,777,100 shares.

Update, 5/27/05, 3:55pm EDT: A major selloff is underway, with 2,658,500 shares traded and the price at $0.625, the Bid at $0.62 and the Ask at $0.625.

Update, 5/27/05, 2:38pm EDT: The 3:15 Surge has brought some trades, with volume climbing to 1,429,500 even though most brokers are trying to get home for the holiday weekend ahead. The price is $0.65 and we recommend selling if you need the money anytime soon. The Bid and Ask are $0.64 x $0.655. Our explanation for the recommendation, which supersedes the the article on top of this one, appears immediately below. Note: I am not selling anything other than the 3,040 shares I already sold to raise some money to pay June bills. I still have 120,000 shares.

The latest news from Homeport is decidedly bad and could produce a late-trade selloff, as it suggests that MLSTP Prime Minister Damaio Vaz d'Almeida is amenable to starving Sao Tome for a few more months to try to win his case in arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris, which first ensured ERHC Energy its rights.

Since the process has been flawless from a technical and legal viewpoint - especially after any potential cnflicts of interest were eliminated by the firing of Patrice Trovoada and the resignations of Mateus Meira Rita and Arlindo de Carvalho (since rescinded) and of President de Menezes from the presidency of the National Petroleum Council, we see this as a delaying action that will prepare the way for a reemergence of ExxonMobil and a no-confidence vote to force elections in Parliament.
The ex-communist MLSTP leadership is still inspired by the Siege of Leningrad, where millions of Russians starved for a year to hold off the Nazis, and are willing to let Sao Tome suffer for as long as it takes to make ExxonMobil and a few of their politicians rich, in my not-so-humble opinion.

Update, 5/27/05, 2:38pm EDT: A second Investors Hub post from Homeport, in whom we detect a pro-Portuguese, pro-MLSTP bias, says the talks "were fruitless" and that nonetheless a "decision" will be made within two weeks. That looks like the long, slow arbitration route to us, at this point. In our experience, Marxists are always willing to let the people starve if it is for a good political advantage. It makes not much sense, but does anything? Here it is:

Posted by: Homeport
In reply to: None Date:5/27/2005 2:43:15 PM
Post #of 3264

ERHE: Portuguese Lusa agency reporting ex-STP that latest Abuja talks were "fruitless" and that two presidents are likely to take a decision within a fortnight. It cites Petroleum Council source who asked to remain anonymous.

Lusa quotes source as saying bilateral disagreement centered on "criteria for selection of companies competing for five blocks" with STP defending priority of signature bonuses against Nigeria's preference for proposed production timetables.

Official reportedly said one stick Nigeria was using to get its way was to press STP to pay up USD 15 Mn in expenses incurred by the JDA.

Digest and spew out some veteran analysis, folk. The story is in Portuguese at www.lusa.pt, but possibly only on reserved service.



Update, 5/27/05, 2:38pm EDT: According to the Portuguese news agency Lusa, all civil service unions and the teachers' union have joined in calling for a general strike beginning Mobnday, June 1, in a demand for a 340 percent increase in the minimum wage. It doesn't sound like a great week for President Fradique de Menezes, who can only give them the money if he signs the awards, and the ruling MLSTP may not allow him to sign so they can take advantage of the turmoil and the strike.

Update, 5/27/05, 2:38pm EDT: A post from Homeport On Raging Bull's ERHE message board says a "declaration" is forthcoming from Prime Minister Damiao Vaz d'Almeida of the MLSTP, the party that runs parliament in opposition to President Fradique de Menezes. The report originates with Radio Africa RDP (Radio Diffusion Portugal), which catalyzed the original problems with its report of corruption the JDZ process. The radio network may be thought of as an extension of the Portuguese government, which was upset that it came too late to the party to win a part of Blocks 2 through 6. Like other Portuguese news reports, it is suspect in that it only tells the Portuguese-speaking peoples' side, not the Nigerian or other sides of this complex, fast-moving story. The good news is that according to RDP Africa, there were no changes in the awards document; the bad news is that the delgation seemed unhappy that there were no changes.

Here is the Homeport post:

From Homeport:
ERHE: FYI, Portuguese RDP-Africa radio reporting ex-Sao Tome that JMC delegation just arrived home from Abuja - wordless, but with "preoccupation visible on their faces."

While delegation made no statement on arrival, radio reports PM Damiao Vaz d'Almeida expected to make a public declaration later today.

RDP-Africa cites an unnamed member of the delegation as telling it it "very difficult" to negotiate with the Nigerians.

In Abuja, the Nigerians had not been open to changing a single "comma" in their earlier stance on the awarding of five JDA blocs (NB: apparently a reference to the JMC decisions of late April), the unidentified official was quoted as saying.

He added that STP viewed Nigeria´s position as unfavorable to Sao Tome, while favoring Nigerian companies.



Update, 5/27/05, 2:09pm EDT: The price is $0.665, the Ask, while the Bid is $0.66. Volume has topped a million shares, and now stands at 1,184,200.

Update, 5/27/05, 1:37pm EDT: Here are two of the more recent Updates available, one from Markviol10 and one from Vincent Nwanma of Dow Jones Newswires.


from the "Slapper"

Just spoke with Secretary of JDA. This is the same fellow who told me what we'd have a PR yesterday and we did. He told me Obansanjo has already signed and that the STP delagation just left for home today. I asked him when Menezes will sign and all he would say is "read the press release and use your head this is done."

Basically what he is saying is that STP would not have agreed on all block winners "harmonised" if Menezes was not going to sign off on all this. Menezes will sign at any time apparently. He said he can't speak for Menezes obviously as to when he will sign but he reiterated that "all is done."

He also mentioned that both parties wanted this done as soon as possible.
Take it for what it's worth folks but this looks very good IMO. Call JDA if you want to verify.

And here's today's Dow Jones article on the awards, which takes the same tack as the Reuters and UpstreamOnline pieces. I think you are beginning to see reporters who have been burned too many times responding to new announcements with great caution. Good for them!

Here;s the Dow Jones story, courtesy of trusted poster Ruby1100:

DJ Still No Award On Nigeria-Sao Tome Oil Blocks
by Vincent Nwanma

Dow Jones Newswires

LAGOS (Dow Jones)--The Nigerian-Sao Tome Joint Development Zone failed to award oil blocks after three days of meetings that ended late Thursday.
But the group which overseas the highly prospective offshore Gulf of Guinea fields said it had reached ""a harmonized position" that would have to be approved by both countries' presidents.

The statement quashed speculation officials from Nigeria and the tiny island state of Sao Tome had been able to end five-months of haggling over the awards of the promising oil blocks.

The awards process has been marred with allegations of corruption and influence peddling. Sao Tome, an island of 170,000 people, has suffered one coup attempt in 2003 and last week the oil minister tendered his resignation, shortly after his chief advisor left his post.

This is the second licensing round for five blocks.

The first round ended with only one block awarded to a consortium led by Chevron (CVX) which bed $123 million. The second round closed Dec. 15 with bids as high as $175 million, but officials have been deadlocked ever since.

Nigeria is the world's eighth biggest oil producer.

Sao Tome currently produces no oil, but its blocks are thought to hold billions of barrels.

Nigeria and Sao Tome ended years of dispute over control of the region with a treaty in 2000, agreeing to jointly administer the area.

A Nigerian diplomat early this week said officials of the JDA should not "allow external factors" to influence their decisions on the award of the blocks.

"Now is the time for them to rededicate themselves to the objectives of the JDA," he said.

Update, 5/27/05, 1:13pm EDT: The price is $0.66 as Sao Tome time hits 6pm without any word of a signature from President de Menezes. The Dow Jones story is out and also toes the line established by Reuters that the talks ended in failure. Oops - now it's $0.65, the Bid, and the Ask is $0.66, with volume leaping to 866,334 shares. I hope my sale didn't scare anyone, as I simply ran out of dough, not out of confidence.

Update, 5/27/05, 12:47pm EDT: I just sold 3,040 shares to pay my June bills and carry me through the Memorial Day weekend. I continue to hold 120,000 shares, and since I sold the expensive ones ($0.58 and $0.59), my average cost ought to go down below the former $0.4394. I hated to do it because the $2,057 I got would have been worth about $9,000 in a few weeks, I think. I got $0.68 for the shares after waiting a few minutes at the Ask. The price is now $0.671, the Bid, and the Ask is $0.675, with volume now at 717,614 shares.

And E*Trade, by the way, gets some big props from me today: Without even telling us customers, they lifted the limit on the number of transfers you can make on a given day. They formerly had a limit of one transfer a day, so you could transfer from your brokerage to your E*Trade Bank (you couldn't transfer directly to your home bank) and then the next day could transfer to your outside bank. Now they let you send money back and forth to your outside bank directly from your brokerage account as often as you want, so long as the transfers don't exceed $25,000. This is great, and I thanked Robert, the brokerage aide, and the company for making my life a lot easier.

Update, 5/27/05. 12:30pm EDT: The price is $0.68, the Ask, and the Bid is better at $0.675 as volume hits 652,414.

I got the following interesting note from a French journalist whose name I recognize, and well link to his stories when they are published:

Dear Joe,
thanks for your blog
one of the very fews french journalists regularly
assigned in Nigeria, and more globally in the Gulf of
Guinea, I'm regularly reading with great interest your

I'm presently back from stp, where I was at the core
of the crisis which finally push OBJ to make a 4 hours
visit to STP. And from hallmark to Equador, as from
Patrice Trovaoda to Exxon Mobil, or Emeka Offor to
alhadji dangote via Wabara it was a very interesting

As a desillusionment. After two weeks of intense
interviews and travel into this so beautiful little
big country, looks like stp in falling into the same
problematics of the oil curse than its
neighbours...Money and indies oil companies for a
few, despair for the majority
a majority of sao tomean which show, since a couple of
months, their first signs of angryness. Just before
leaving, I attend to the first protest in the stp
history of students from the national high school

so, my point of view is that stp, in between Naija and
Angola, and under high scrutiny of your country (
and let's not forget China which could come back after
the next elections) is really at a turning point....

anyway, It was just to keep in touch with you
you can check my last articles ( some in english) via
my name + africa on google, and please, let's stay
tuned, my articles should be soon published in french
daily Liberation as in monthly magazines

yours, sincerely
Jean Christophe Servant

Update, 5/27/05, 12:03pm EDT: The price is $0.671, the Bid, and the Ask is still at $0.68 as volume closes in on 600K at 594,414 shares. If President de Menezes meets the plane, gets the document and signs it, we would see action before the close. I am not sure how unlikely or not that scenario may be. There seems to be substantial anxiety to get the deal done on all sides.

Update, 5/27/05, 11:47am EDT: The Bid and Ask are $0.671 x $0.68, and volume has climbed to 594,099 going into the lunch hour, so it's likely we'll hit 1 million or more - unless President De Menezes signs the awards document, in which case we'll hit 3 million if news comes after 3pm.

Update, 5/27/05, 11:05am EDT: The price is still $0.675, after having fallen to $0.66, and volume is a healthy 474,766 shares. Bid and Ask remain $0.67 x $0.675.

Update, 5/27/05, 10:13am EDT: The price slips to $0.675 on volume of 346,146 shares, while the Bid falls to $0.67 and the Ask slips to $0.68.

Update, 5/27/05, 10:07am EDT: Reading the Communique with a magnifying glass, page 1 says that the due diligence from the 2004 round was scrutinized and more analysis was done, and the JMC concluded that everything had been done in conformity with the Abuja Declaration. We're waiting for Page 2.

The price is $0.685, the Ask, while the Bid is $0.68. Volume is 336.146 shares.

Update, 5/27/05, 10:02am EDT: The price is $0.69, the Bid, and the Ask is $0.695, with volume at 271,146 shares.

Update, 5/27/05, 9:52am EDT: The price is $0.699, the Ask, with the Bid at $0.69 and volume 219,508 shares.

Update, 5/27/05, 9:48am EDT: An Update from the JMC is circulating, per a Comment below this post:

There is a PDF of the communique from the JMC. Looks positive, says heads of state have to approve 'per the treaty'.

Will try and get whole thing here soon.

Update, 5/27/05. 9:42am EDT: The price is $0.699 as the Bid rises to $0.695 and then falls to $0.69 on 196,508 shares.

Update, 5/27/05. 9:41am EDT: The price is $0.69 as volume moves to 169,008.

Update, 5/27/05. 9:40am EDT: The price is $0.699, up $0.034 on 164,508 shares of volume. The Bid and Ask are $0.69 x $0.699.

Article Probes Goodworks, Attacks Jeter, But Offers No Evidence

An article in a small Nigerian newspaper, the Port Harcourt Telegraph, today attacks former U.S. Ambassador Howatd Franklin Jeter and the head of his his "lobbying" firm, Goodworks International, LLC, but after a highly suiggestive train of allegations reveals there is nothing to support them. It has the appearance of a "hatchet job" that might have been sponsored by ExxonMobil, a disappointed suitor in the second licensing round for five blocks of the Nigeria-Sao Tome and Principe Joint Development Zone.

ExxonMobil President Rex Tillerson
Joe Shea/The American Reporter

ExxonMobil's vast power extends throughout the U.S. government and across the nation and the world. Through its hundreds of thousands of employees and legions of consultants, it seems to have mounted a full-scale attack on the Joint Development Authority block awards, including a hornet's nest of opposition in Sao Tome and a series of damaging intelligence reports and other initiatives that seem aimed at undermining the Obasanjo government in Nigeria and the De Menezes government in Sao Tome while getting the awards process reopened so they may take part.

President Obasanjo met Jeter and was honored at a dinner sponsored by Goodworks and former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young during his recent visit to the United States.

ExxonMobil is being investigated at present for its role in bribery of the government of Equatorial Guinea, along with smaller oil companies. Sao Tome officials have hinted that angry "oil majors" are bnehind the problems. Tens of billions of dollars are at stake in the awards process.

Thursday, May 26, 2005 4:20 PM
Obasanjo's multi-million dollar lobbyist exposed
by Jonathan Elendu

Until just a few days before the launching of Pres. Olusegun Obasanjo's Presidential Library, very few Nigerians had heard the name, Carlton Masters, let alone his company, Goodworks International, LLC. Goodworks is an Atlanta based lobbying firm founded by Obasanjo's long-time friend and former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Andrew Young, and Carlton Masters, a naturalized American. Masters served as a former Deputy Minister of Trade and Agent-General to the United States for Ontario, Canada.

The firm, GWI, founded by Andrew Young and Carlton Masters in 1997, lobbies the United States government on behalf of Nigeria. The relationship between this company and Obasanjo's government has made some past and present top government functionaries uneasy.

In recent years there have been growing concerns among Nigerians that the various governments from the Babangida era to date have used influential African Americans to sustain their power, to the ultimate detriment of Nigerian masses. A few prominent Nigerians privately express concern at the growing influence Andrew Young, Carlton Masters and their company, Goodworks International, LLC have on the Obasanjo Government.

Goodworks International enjoys a multi-million dollar lobbying contract with the Federal Government of Nigeria. There are also rumours that Andrew Young, and his partner, Carlton Masters are secretly involved in other aspects of the economy, especially in the oil and telecommunications sectors.

Disregarding national pride, propriety and common sense, the Obasanjo Presidential Library has engaged Carlton Masters, an American, as one its Co-Chairmen. The Obasanjo Presidential Library was launched on May 14th and was reported to have realized about six billion naira in one day.

On the day of the launching of the Presidential Library, this writer had a brief conversation with Masters and requested an interview with him. Initially, Masters responded favourably to an interview, but after a few transatlantic calls with him, he changed his mind and suggested we talk to his lawyer instead.

We since discovered that his interview with Sowore Omoyele, a columnist and special correspondent for ELENDUREPORTS.COM, upset him. His lawyer called Omoyele to threaten him. But harassing Nigerians is not new to Masters. In the past he had threatened Nigerian journalists including former NEWS magazine Abuja Bureau Chief, Alex Kabba.

Kabba, who now publishes African Abroad USA, confirmed that Masters and his colleague, Amb. Howard Jeter, called to threaten him shortly after he published a story on Goodworks International, LLC. We called the Atlanta headquarters of Goodworks International. A lady directed us to Jeter's office in Washington. A call to the Washington office did not yield much as Amb. Jeter was said to be out of the office.

So who is Carlton Masters? Masters, 55, is a naturalized American. Originally from Jamaica, Masters had a long career in banking. He was a Vice President of Bank of Montreal before being appointed in 1992 by then Premier of Ontario, Bob Rae, to serve as Agent-General and Deputy Minister of Trade to the United States. Masters worked for the Ontario government for 15 months. The last five months of the 15 months was spent on leave of absence following allegations of sexual misconduct levelled against him by nine women.

One of the women, Catharine Arnston, was a commercial officer at Boston office of the Ontario government. During a government-sponsored dinner in Boston, Masters, according to a report by Christie Blatchford, then of the Toronto Sun, rejected a place at the high table, choosing instead to sit at Ms. Arnston's table. According to Toronto Sun, Masters repeatedly asked Ms. Arnston, "How they would be spending the night together." He was infuriated by Ms. Arnston's attempts to deflect his propositions. In frustration, he made an obscene hand gesture and said, "She's jerking me around."

Masters reportedly told another Ontario government staffer, "I don't do threesomes," after she showed up with another friend with whom she already had plans, for a dinner Masters insisted that they have. She worked at the Los Angeles office of the Ontario government.

The sexual misconduct allegations against Carlton Masters were investigated by a team of lawyers hired by the Ontario government. No charges were filed and Masters resigned after hinting that he was ready to fight the Ontario government if they tried to fire him.

Reporter and columnist, Christie Blatchford, who now works for Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper wrote seven stories on the Masters sexual harassment saga. She interviewed Catharine Arnston. She also interviewed Carlton Masters on April 4, 1993. The tone of her stories changed as she wrote more about the issue. "I became more sympathetic to Masters as I learned more about the allegations," she told ELENDUREPORTS.COM during an interview.

Although she believed Catharine Arnston to be credible and the investigators hired by the Ontario government found her allegations to be true, Blatchford says, "I just think the process was not fair to Masters. He was not given an opportunity to confront his accusers as the names of some of the women were not even revealed to him." Was Masters set up? "I don't think so...I believe he demanded a lot from the people he worked with...and some of the women may have been too sensitive," Blatchford said.

Many Nigerians believe that Carlton Masters' involvement in the Obasanjo Presidential Library is offensive to propriety and suggests corruption at a time the President is supposedly engaged in an anti-corruption war. Some are more disturbed by the obvious conflict of interests in this matter.

The Government's chief lobbyist is also asking companies and individuals who do business with the government to donate to the President's private library. Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, described the launching of the library as an "executive extortion."

There are a few questions that need answers from Pres. Obasanjo and Carlton Masters: How many Nigerians serve on the boards of Presidential libraries in the United States? Is there a dearth of Nigerians qualified to be on Obasanjo's Presidential library? Other than being a lobbyist for the President, what other unique qualities does Masters bring to the table that Nigerians can not?

There is one obvious similarity in the characters of Pres. Obasanjo and Carlton Masters: They like to bully journalists.

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