Monday, October 31, 2005

Joint Development Authority Approves Addax Replacement for Noble in Block 4; ERHE Rises $0.055 in Afternoon Trading

Moving with unaccustomed speed to overcome what many investors and insiders felt could be a killer obstacle, the Joint Development Authority of the Nigeria-Sao Tome and Principe Joint Development Zone today told the global Reuters news agency they have approved the substitution of Addax Petroleum as ERHC Energy's new partner to replace Noble Energy, which walked away from an estimated 3.5 billion barrels of oil reserves in Block 4 of the JDZ a week ago.

Here is the official ERHC Energy statement on the approval, which was released 58 minutes after the market's close:

JDA Approves ERHC Energy and Addax Consortium for Block 4
Monday October 31, 4:58 pm ET

HOUSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 31, 2005--Houston-based ERHC Energy (OTCBB:ERHE - News) announced today the company has received approval from the Nigeria-Sao Tome & Principe Joint Development Authority for Swiss-based Addax Petroleum to replace Noble Energy in its Joint Development Zone Block 4 consortium.

The JDA approval states that Addax satisfies the JDA's technical and commercial requirement for the operatorship of JDZ Block 4, and requires the ERHC-Addax consortium designate Addax as the operator, as well as for the consortium to accept all commercial and technical terms of the original award of 35 percent equity interest.

ERHC Energy announced Friday that the company had entered into a memorandum of understanding with Addax Petroleum on October 25, 2005. The parties are in the process of negotiating a participation agreement.

"Naturally, we are enthused by the JDA's recognition of Addax Petroleum as an attribute to Block 4 and our mutual goals of exploring this deepwater opportunity," said Ali Memon, ERHC Energy president and CEO. "We are committed to moving swiftly and responsibly through the negotiating process in accord with the guidelines the JDA has established."

Addax Petroleum is an international oil and gas exploration and production company currently focused on West Africa. Its technical services office is located in Geneva, Switzerland. The company commenced operations in Nigeria in 1998 when it signed two Production Sharing Contracts with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation for Blocks OML-123 (offshore), and OML-124 (onshore), operated by Addax Petroleum Development (Nigeria) Limited and for OPL-90 and OPL 225 (offshore) operated by Addax Petroleum Exploration (Nigeria) Limited, both subsidiaries of Addax Petroleum NV, a subsidiary of the Addax and Oryx Group. Both PSCs are operated 100% by Addax Petroleum. Addax Petroleum commenced production in 1998 in Nigeria, producing 9,000 barrels per day. After intensive drilling activity, Addax Petroleum is currently averaging 50,000 barrels per day from OMLs 123 and 124, and with the addition of the Okwori production, it is forecasted to produce in excess of 80,000 barrels per day by the year-end. For further information visit the company's website at

Based in Houston, Texas, ERHC Energy Inc. is an oil and gas company focused on exploration in the Gulf of Guinea offshore West Africa. For more information, visit the company's website at

The statements in this document are forward-looking statements made pursuant to the Safe Harbor Provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements and the business prospects of ERHC are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results in future periods to differ materially from the forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties are described on Forms 10-Q and 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

ERHC Energy Inc., Houston
Shanta Mauney, 713-869-0707

The approval came with conditions, however: Among them are a JDA demand that ERHC Energy "speed up" its conclusion of joint operating agreements with its partners and accept "all the commercial and technical terms of the award and pay a $90 million signature bonus before Addax can assume the role of operator."

On the plus side, that may mean that the original Noble Energy drilling schedule that called for sinking three wells in the deep offshore block within a year of the signing of Production Sharing Contracts and payment of the signature bonus will remain in place.

The company indicated in its 2004 Annual Report that Addax has a $250 million line of credit on which it has only drawn down $65 million, and investors hope that credit line can help meet the signature bonus obligation.

The JDA also revealed that Addax already had a role in the block. The company "has a technical partner agreement with Overt Ventures, which was assigned a five percent stake in Block 4," Reuters quoted the JDA as saying.
The resolution of lingering doubts about Noble Energy has sent the stock up $0.04 in early afternoon trading on volume of 1,850,931, five times higher than recent daily averages.

Update, 10/31/05. 4:34pm EST: A block of 245,500 shares traded at $0.40 at 3:09pm, and a block of 239,400 traded above the $0.405 Ask at $0.41 at 3:42pm. The day closed with volume of 2,647,000 shares and a gain of $0.055 top $0.42, or $5,786 for the ERHC On The Move portfolio of 105,200 shares. After hours, 20,000 shares traded at the $0.415 Bid, and the Ask moved higher to $0.43.

ERHC partners Addax in Nigeria-Sao Tome oil permit

Mon Oct 31, 2005 11:44 AM ET

ABUJA, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Nigeria and Sao Tome have approved Houston-based ERHC Energy's (ERHE.OB: Quote, Profile, Research) request to replace Noble Energy with Addax Petroleum in a consortium that won oil drilling rights, authorities said on Monday.

Noble Energy withdrew from the consortium which won a 60 percent equity in Block 4 of the jointly-administered area in May, after which ERHC signed a deal with Addax giving the Swiss-based energy firm operatorship of the offshore block.

"Following the withdrawal ... and the request by ERHC to replace Noble Energy with Addax Petroleum in the consortium, the JDA has since reviewed and accepted the request," the Joint Development Authority (JDA) said in a statement.

The JDA, which administers the Nigeria-Sao Tome and Principe Joint Development Zone in the Gulf of Guinea, said the new consortium must accept all the commercial and technical terms of the award and pay a $90 million signature bonus before Addax can assume the role of operator.

The ERHC/Addax consortium must also accept the production sharing contract timeline and agree to speed-up joint operating agreement negotiations with other shareholders, the JDA said.

Addax, which already operates four licences in Nigeria, has a technical partner agreement with Overt Ventures, which was assigned a five percent stake in Block 4, the JDA said. Nigerian Conoil (NTOL.LG: Quote, Profile, Research) and two small Nigerian companies also have small stakes in Block 4.

Other energy firms that won rights to exploration blocks in the second licensing round in May include Devon (DEV.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and Anadarko (APC.N: Quote, Profile, Research).

The JDA has awarded five offshore blocks in the Gulf of Guinea, which has become one of the world's exploration hotspots since a series of huge oil finds in the last 20 years, but the process has been marred by delays, bickering and accusations of corruption.

Nigeria, the world's eighth biggest oil exporter, and Sao Tome and Principe hope jointly to receive $400 million in signature bonuses for the five blocks.

Reuters failed to mention that Devon has also backed away from the JDA. In a more accurate report, UpstreamOnline. whose Barry Morgan has covered the story consistently, also weighed in:

JDA okays Sao Tome pairing

By Upstream staff

Nigeria and Sao Tome's Joint Development Authority (JDA) has approved Houston-based ERHC Energy's request to replace Noble Energy with Addax Petroleum in a consortium that won oil drilling rights.

Noble, which won a 60% equity in block 4 of the jointly-administered area in May, withdrew from the consortium prompting ERHC to sign a deal with Swiss-based Addax, ceding operatorship of the Gulf of Guinea block.

The JDA said the new consortium must accept all of the terms of the award and pay a $90 million signature bonus before Addax can take on the role of operator.

The ERHC/Addax consortium must also accept the production sharing contract timeline and agree to accelerate joint operating agreement negotiations with other shareholders.

Addax, which already operates four licences in Nigeria, carries a technical partner agreement with Overt Ventures, which was assigned a 5% stake in block 4, according to Reuters.

Nigerian Conoil and two small Nigerian companies also hold small stakes in block 4.

Friday, October 28, 2005

ERHC Replaces Noble With Addax In Block 4

The reports from Mutwadadi were borne out when ERHC Energy released a statement after the closing confirming that Noble Energy had withdrawn from Block 4 and that Addax Petroleum of Switzerland will take its place.

ERHC Energy and Addax Petroleum Sign MOU for Block 4
Oct 28, 2005 5:09:00 PM
Copyright Business Wire 2005
HOUSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 28, 2005--

ERHC Energy (OTCBB:ERHE) announced today the company has entered into a memorandum of understanding with Addax Petroleum whereby Addax Petroleum will replace Noble Energy in the Noble/ERHC consortium. The memorandum of understanding between ERHC Energy and Addax Petroleum was signed on October 25, 2005, and the parties are in the process of negotiating a participation agreement.

The memorandum of understanding has been submitted to the Joint Development Authority seeking approval for Addax to replace Noble in the ERHC/Noble consortium and to assume the role of operator.

Noble informed the JDA and ERHC Energy of its decision to withdraw from participating in Block 4 and from the ERHC / Noble consortium on October 24, 2005. The ERHC/Noble consortium was awarded a 35 % interest in Block 4 and designated as the operator May 31, 2005.

Addax Petroleum is an international oil and gas exploration and production company currently focused on West Africa. Its technical services office is located in Geneva, Switzerland. The company commenced operations in Nigeria in 1998 when it signed two Production Sharing Contracts with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation for Blocks OML-123 (offshore), and OML-124 (onshore), operated by Addax Petroleum Development (Nigeria) Limited and for OPL-90 and OPL 225 (offshore) operated by Addax Petroleum Exploration (Nigeria) Limited, both subsidiaries of Addax Petroleum NV, a subsidiary of the Addax and Oryx Group. Both PSCs are operated 100% by Addax Petroleum. Addax Petroleum commenced production in 1998 in Nigeria, producing 9,000 barrels per day. After intensive drilling activity, Addax Petroleum is currently averaging 50,000 barrels per day from OMLs 123 and 124, and with the addition of the Okwori production, it is forecasted to produce in excess of 80,000 barrels per day by the year-end. For further information visit the company's website at

Based in Houston, Texas, ERHC Energy Inc. is an oil and gas company focused on exploration in the Gulf of Guinea offshore West Africa. For more information, visit the company's website at

The statements in this document are forward-looking statements made pursuant to the Safe Harbor Provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements and the business prospects of ERHC are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results in future periods to differ materially from the forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties are described on Forms 10-Q and 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Source: ERHC Energy Inc.

ERHC Has Found New European Partner, Mutwadadi Says

Mutwadadi, who revealed yesterday that Noble Energy had walked away from Block 4 in the Nigeria-Sao Tome and Principe Joint Development Zone, now advises us that the company has found a "perfectly respectable" European partner - and they, not Exxon Mobil or APC, will be the operators of the much-sought-after block.

Here is the latest:


i understand a new operator has been found for block 4. not anadarko, not exxon - where did you get that idea from! a european company, not huge, but perfectly respectable, with money and capacity. it will have to go to the jmc for approval, and that is sure to create issues. but there is a deal on the table.

erhc i guess are under an obligation to file an 8-K, although that would depend on when they were officially informed.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

ERHE Up 11.5% to .385 As 'Conspiracy Theories' Gain, But Mutwadadi Says Noble Energy May Bail From Block 4; Report Is Independently Confirmed On I-Hub

ERHC Energy has enjoyed a rare one-day climb of $.04 today without any news to drive the increase. At 1.11pm EST, the price stood at $0.385, up from the day's low of $0.345.

There's a fly in the ointment, however. The well-informed tipster Mutwadadi says dark clouds are gathering over the Nigeria-Sao Tome and Principe Joint Development Zone, and particularly over Block 4.

The word is, according to Mutwadadi, that Noble Energy may be forced out of Block 4, ceding operatorship to Anadarko Petroleum Corp., which with ExxonMobil has been the driving force behind an investigation headed by oil lawyer R. Dobie Langenkamp of the majors-heavy National Energy Environment Law & Policy Institute at the University of Tulsa, where neither ERHC nor Noble is represented. Frankly, we would be surprised to see Noble roll over for these guys.

There is no confirmation that may happen, however, and Noble Energy spokesman Greg Panagos could not be reached for comment.

Update, 10:22am EST, 10/28/2005: Telephone calls to Panagos went unanswered yesterday but with the help of an aide to Susan Cunningham (Sr VP, Exploration) we did speak to his secretary, Joan Pippington, who did not acknowledge the call we left for her yesterday but promised Panagos would return our call "as soon as possible." We lodged a complaint about the non-responsive press opffice with Noble Board Chairman Charles Davidson and Alan Bullingham, SR VP, International. None of these people except Cunningham were in their offices, and none would take the call or issue a denial. In the meantime, the highly respected moderator of Investor's Hub, Balance Builder, has posted a note on I-Hub saying that he has independently confirmed Mutwadadi's information. Therre has been no erosion in price since yesterday's close, however, and there is some feeling that Noble's departure may ultimately prove to be a good thing for ERHC Energy.

Below is Mutwadadi's note of a few minutes ago, verbatim:


the noise here is that there are more clouds gathering over the jdz - particularly on block 4. to lose one us company might be regarded as unfortunate; to lose two looks like carelessness. it may in no way be erhc's fault, but the local politics leaves him with a number of enemies at present. the bottom line remains that erhc has its 25% option, but it could all be messy in the meantime...mutwa

We have to interpret the phrase "to lose one U.S. company" as the loss of Devon Energy, and "to lose two" to mean the loss of Noble.

A pullout by Noble Energy would force ERHC Energy to be a backseat observer of the process, but would also mean that it would have no financial obligation to help with the production costs, as Block 4 was bonus-free for ERHC. Anadarko has a slow-paced drilling plan that extends to just one well over the next three years, while Noble Energy had promised to sink three in the next three years, the first of which would be within one year of the PSC signing.

The ERHE price rise comes as investor-investigators close in on the identities of a group of sellers who have apparently used Internet postings by their members to drive the price down for the purpose of accumulation.

With names and facts now emerging and links being more strongly established, it at least appears that a group of South Florida manipulators are doing the dirty work and are being reported to the SEC.

What has changed is that solid links have been established between one Curtis Arnold, who is believed to be a poster named Mongo and has a history of SEC actions against him, a Palm Beach lawyer named Donald Mintmire who was charged criminally by the SEC earlier this year, and Noreen Wilson, a client of Mintmire's who is believed to be one of ERHC Energy's largest shareholders and who was a key figure in an investment group registered with the SEC several years ago.

As the facts of these relationships began to emerge yesterday, many investors on both the Investor's Hub and Raging Bull message boards acknowledged that so-called conspiracy theories which attempt to explain why the stock's price has fallen so dramatically sionceawards on May 31 may have real substance.

The "dark clouds" suggested by Mutwadadi may bring it all crashing down again, however; the price is remarkably now at $0.38 but has seen $0.33 in recent days. We do not have independent confirmation of Mutwadadi's comments yet.

Update, 2:59pm EST, 10/27/05: 115,000 shares have traded at the Biod since this note was posted, beginning immediately thereafter.

Update, 3:15pm EST, 10/27/05: We got a second note from Mutwadai in response to our reply, in which I asked for information on the investigation:

the investigation awaits response from nigeria to to sao tome's attorney-general for assistance. given that it took the a-g four months to get around to asking nigeria, there is nothing to suggest there needs to be any urgency on nigeria's part to reply.

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Seminole and the Hurricane

The face of an Old Florida Seminole stares with surprised amusement at tiny Wilma the Hurricane Dragon - or is that a toy poodle? - as she approaches Naples, Fla. The image is unretouched from NOAA's satellite imagery at 2:45am Monday, Oct. 24.
Joe Shea/The American Reporter

Waiting For Wilma

Eye On The Hurricane
by Joe Shea
American Reporter Correspondent
Bradenton, Fla.

BRADENTON, Fla., Oct. 24, 2005, 1:44m EST -- The porch furniture is piled high in the living room, the refrigerator is stocked with cold cuts, the cooler is packed with ice, every appropriate container is full of fresh water, and all the flashlights and the portable radios are ready to go. Now all we need is a storm.

Hurricane Wilma is about 100 miles off the southwestern coast of Florida as I write at 12:42am, recently bumped up to a Category 3 storm capable of inflicting enormous damage whever it hits. That appears to be somewhere between Naples, Fla., where my cousin Patti lives, and the Everglades, the magnificent wild swamp south of Alligator Alley that is one of the largest preserved wetlands in the world.

According to the weather people, the storm will bring winds from 60 to 70mph to Bradenton, where I live on the South Florida Gulf Coast 60 miles south of Tampa.

For the folks on Marco Island, a community of 20,000 boat-owning retirees just south of Naples, it could mean once-in0-a-liftime devastation of the kind suffered in New Orleans. That's because the tightly-organized little city actually is complex web of interlinked canals that could experience a flood surge of anywhere from 8 to 17 feet, according to the U.S. Weather Service.

Just off Bradenton, where I live about a half mile from a large bay that opens into the Gulf, is Anna Maria Island to the north, and then Longboat Key, Lido Key, Suiesta Key and Casey Key to the south. These barrier islands are not at nearly as much risk from Wilma as they once were from Charlie - they were spared that time, though - but they are in danger os losing more of their precious beaches, where the sand is rated the finest in the world in some years.

Back on the mainland, though, you go down through Sarasota to Philippi Creek, then Venice, North Port, Englewood, Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda, the latter four places tourist and blue-collar communities that were devastated by Charlies last year. There's a long stretch of mostly nothing then, all the way down to Fort Myers, and once again the population starts to build up and then fades away into tropical swamps and retirement communities until you get to Naples, about 130 miles south of Bradenton via Interstate 75 and 30 or 40 miles south of Fort Myers, a true resort town with a Spring Break rep just shy of Fort Lauderdale's.

Across the Gulf to the southeast, of course, is Cancun and Cosumel, the resort cities on the upper tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, wher Wilma just had her way with thousands of tourists and many more Mexicans, many of whom will probably be on their way to Arizona and Texas as soon as the weather clears, having been beaten out of work by Wilma and sometimes left homeless to boot. After just a 24-hour visit whirlwind tour of the Mexican resorts, Wilma decided to take a straighter course to America, and on her current trajectory to the northeast, moving along at 18mph, she will hit around Naples and Marco Island around 7am in the morning. Before she gets here, up north in Bradenton we'll have started getting lots of rains from the "feeder bands" of the outer circulation, and as that is meeting a cold front coming down from Texas there will be a lot of tornadoes at the margins. A tornado is what I fear most, and we have a tornado warning, a tropical storm warning and a whole lot of groceries to prepare us.

But that is hardly the whole of Wilma, or even the least of these storms. We're keeping a wary out for Alpha, which doesn't seem to threaten our state, just as we've watched Wilma's development way out in the Caribbean since last Friday afternoon, when it just a "tropical wave," which precedes a "tropical depression, which precedes a tropical storm and become a hurricane when it damn well pleases to blow at 75mph or more.

The thing is that all of these storms bear a lot of watching, most of it done on television and much of it also on the Internet at the government weather site, There the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Weather Service, the National Hurricane Center and a whole bunch of departments and branches and sub-branches hold forth in copious forecasts, advisories, warnings, updates, position reports and the like, many of which find their way either onto my desktop as background maps or into my AOL mailbox. During a big storm like this one, I can expect 30 to 40 pieces of welcome mail - I repeat, welcome mail - that allows me to save money by not spending the $300 to $1,000 a storm can squeeze even from the pockets, if we had them, of turnips like me. Yet the waiting is far from a pleasure. There is nothing remotely sublime or blissful about listening to storm forecasts 30 or 40 times a day from CNN, our local Bay New 9, the local network channels, the Weather Channel and a couple of Tampa Bay- and Sarasota-area radio stations. But I do keep informed.

We've so far spent something under $60 to ready ourselves for Wilma, and most of that will probably be wasted if all goes as it appears it will go a few hours from now (1:12am). I concentrated on getting sweet things that would stave off boredom, while my wife concentrated on keeping me from buying those things. I ended up with two pounds of cooked ham, two pounds of turkey breast, a pound and a half of roast beef, a pound of Swiss cheese, some nice onion rolls, a half-gallon of ice cream and some sugar-free jello cups, along with a box of wheat thins, a can of tuna, two cans of sliced peaches, a small tub of cottage cheese and two small tubs of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter. I don't think that isd at all interesting, except that the tab at Wal-Mart came to $45 and I can't figure out how.

The wind is picking up now. It's become steady instead of intermittent, and it coming directly at the seven floor-to-ceiling sliding doors that front on our lanai and the southeast-facing side of the building. The rain has come and gone unpredictably, but it often does that here, and thankfully tonight there has been little lightning and no thunder at all. But does asome evil-minded humongous tornado await us out there in the dark, our past the parking lot and the swimming pool and the golf course, our there beyond Bradenton Beach and Anna Maria? It's pitch dark beyond the palm trees except for the tiny infrequent streetlamps swaying in the dark, and there's know way to know. If it comes, the windows will resist winds of up to 100mph or so, but then things get iffy. A few miles more, say 115, and stuff starts crashing thorugh the lanai screens. At about 125mph, the roof starts to feel a tug, and maybe the corridor windows break, meaning that children of the hurricane come screaming past the inner doors of our condos, stopping only to smash the lights. Our entry door is sucked out into their playground, along with the furniture too light to resist and any real children not well seated, and then begins a katabatic maelstrom that in a few minutes erases the accumulations of our lives and at last, our lives as well.

That's why some people evacuate. Having neither ready cash nor a current job, and lots of bills to pay with whatever money I can scrounge up, it's almost as painful an option as staying is when good sense or preternatural instinct tells you to go. Just now (1:26am), almost on cue, that old familiar whistle of the wind has started to rise. I'm waiting for Wilma, my wife and my daughter sound asleep nearby. It's dark out there.

Joe Shea moved to Bradenton from Hollywood, Calif., in June 2003, and has experienced eight hurricanes that hit the state since then.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

+ Our Deepest Condolences To President Obasanjo +

Nigeria's First Lady, the beloved wife of President Olusegun Obasano, died of complications of surgery in Spain on Saturday.

On behalf of all investors in ERHC Energy who have been inspired by his wisdom, patience and remarkable personal strength, ERHC On The Move extends its deepest condolences and most profound sorrow to President Olusegun Obasanjo on the passing of his beloved wife, Stella, following complications of surgery on Saturday.

Plane From Lagos To Abuja Down With 117 Souls Aboard; Passenger Manifest May Include British Fraud Investigator

A Bellview Airlines 737 making the 50-minute flight from Lagos, the nation's largest and most influential city, to Nigeria's capital of Abuja was lost late Saturday with 111 passengers and six crew members aboard.

According to the New York Times, the plane was carrying several "high-ranking Nigerian officials." Among those identified from a passenger manifest were the nation's Postmaster Generral.

Among those believed to be aboard and presumed killed was Martin Grieves, a Principal Investigator with Britain's Serious Fraud office. It was not known why he might have been in Nigeria, where several investigations are underway that involve current and past Nigerian residents of Great Britain suspected in fraud, and his identity has not yet been confirmed.

It is not know whether there are survivors, and the nationalities of those aboard has not yet been revealed.

It was the first of two tragedies thrown into the lap of Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo this weekend; the second was the death of his beloved wife, Stella, due to the complications of surgery earlier Saturday. CNN had the day wrong, however.

First, here is the CNN report on Stella Obasanjo's death in Spain:

Obasanjo's wife dies in hospital
Sunday, October 23, 2005; Posted: 8:31 a.m. EDT (12:31 GMT)

LAGOS, Nigeria (CNN) -- Stella Obasanjo, wife of Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, died Sunday at a hospital in Spain, officials said.

She had traveled to Spain to undergo surgery and died from complications resulting from that surgery, authorities said.

Obasanjo, 59, was "rushed to the hospital late Saturday and the condition became critical," an official at the Nigerian Embassy in Madrid told CNN.

"We don't know the details" of her death on Sunday, the official added, declining to give his name.

The official said the Nigerian ambassador to Spain and key embassy aides from Madrid were traveling to Malaga.

Arrangements were being made to return Obasanjo's remains to Nigeria "as soon as possible."

The official said he did not know when Obsanjo arrived in Marbella. She would have turned 60 on November 14, he said.

The Spanish Foreign Ministry told CNN that Obasanjo was on a private visit to Marbella, and that her body was in a morgue in the nearby town of Malaga, where an investigating magistrate was conducting an autopsy.

The ministry referred any other questions to Nigerian authorities.

Stella Obasanjo was hailed as the Nigerian president's "beloved wife," according to a one-sentence statement signed by presidential spokeswoman Remi Oyo, The Associated Press reported.

Here is the latest story available, from Reuters at 11:06am Sunday. A story below this one was the first reporting on the story.

Nigerian Plane Crashes; All 117 Aboard Feared Dead

Published: October 23, 2005
Filed at 11:05 a.m. ET

LAGOS (Reuters) - A Nigerian airliner with 117 people aboard was totally destroyed in a crash shortly after take-off from Lagos and there were no signs of survivors, the Nigerian Red Cross said today.

Skip to next paragraph The plane disintegrated on impact with swampy earth near Lissa, about 30 kms (20 miles) north of Lagos, shortly after leaving for the Nigerian capital of Abuja last night.

"The plane is still burning. I can't confirm if there are any survivors, but there is no trace so far," Red Cross General Secretary Abiodun Orebiyi told Reuters by telephone.

"The plane was totally destroyed. It was scattered everywhere."

Dismembered, burned body parts and fuselage fragments were scattered across a large area of disturbed earth, according to images of the crash scene broadcast by the local AIT television station. A cheque for 948,000 naira ($7,200) from the evangelical Christian Deeper Life church was one of a number of personal papers found among the wreckage.

A Red Cross official at the site said there was a 70 foot crater where the main impact occurred.

The Boeing 737-200 was believed to be carrying some senior Nigerian officials as well as a U.S. consular official and some European passengers.

Bellview Airlines flight 210 left at 8:45 p.m. (3:45 p.m. New York time)Saturday and lost contact minutes later during a heavy electrical storm. It was carrying 111 passengers and six crew, the Federal Airport Authority said, updating an earlier figure of 110 passengers. The pilot made a distress call after take-off, indicating the plane had a technical problem, a source at the presidency told Reuters.

State radio reported that several high-ranking government officials were on the plane, but there was some confusion over the names and numbers of passengers.

Distraught relatives wailed and prayed at the Lagos airport as a Bellview Airlines official read out a list of passengers. The list may not be entirely accurate because tickets are often transferred between people in Nigeria, the official said.

The route the airliner was taking is heavily travelled, with dozens of flights each day between the port of Lagos -- one of the world's biggest cities -- and Abuja in the heart of Africa's most populous nation.

Earlier on Sunday, a spokesman for Oyo state, Adeola Oloko, said the crash was 150 kms (100 miles) north of Lagos and about half the passengers had survived. Emergency rescue helicopters went to that site only to find nothing there.

Oloko later retracted that statement in a telephone conversation with Reuters.

Bellview Airlines is a privately owned Nigerian airline and is popular with expatriates.

In Seattle, Boeing spokeswoman Liz Verdier said the company would work with the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board if the board was asked to help with any investigation in Nigeria.

She said the 737 was the "workhorse of the world commercial jet fleet".

More than 140 people died in May 2002 when a Nigerian airliner slammed into a poor suburb in the northern city of Kano, killing people on board and on the ground. The aircraft plowed into about 10 buildings shortly after take-off.

Here is the passenger manifest from the plane, courtesy of ThisDay Online:

Identities Of Passengers Aboard Missing Bellview Plane
By Gboyega Akinsanmi, 10.23.2005

1. Abubakar Hauwam S.
2. Ardo Hamza Baba
3. Adomakoh A. Mr.
4. Aknni T.O. Mr.
5. Adegoke A.S Mr.
6. Adedoyin O. Mr.
7. Ani F. Mr.
8. Akinola A.R. Mr.
9. Adele L. Mr.
10. Ango A. Mr.
11. Aigbokhai A.O. Mrs.
12. Afolabi Roberts Mr.
13. Adamu A. Ms.
14. Argngu Abubakr M. Mr. (Postmaster General)
15. Agharrtite T. Mr.
16. Adebayo A.S Mr.
17. Adelekan P. Mr.
18. Akinbola B. Mrs.
19. Ayeni K. Mr.
20. Awawa I. Mr.
21. Babalola B. Mrs.
22. Boro Danlandi Mr.
23. Briamah B. Mrs.
24. Brother Grebe Jean Paul (CHLD)
25. Bakare A.M. Mr.
26. Borbor A.M. Mr.
27. Bebeji R. Mr
28. Conteh S. Mr
29. Chijoke Bravo Dr.
30. Dagaci S.
31.Daba M. Mr.
32. Diapara C.O. General
33. Edewur J. Mr.
34. Etim R.
35. Enenmoh George Engr. (MD, ASCON)
36. Ezenkwu I. Mr.
37. Esiriyiwa Ms.
38. Ejike N. Mr.
39. Emorrhokpor P.U. Mrs.
40. Egwake J.
41. Egbe C. Mr.
42. Eneware S. Mr
43. Goana B. Mr.
44. Grieves Martins Mr.
45. Hayford B.J. Mrs
46. Haydon Joseph
47. Imasuen M. Ms.
48. Igbiye Udu Mr.
49. Inedu I.O. Mr.
50. Ibrahim U. Mr.
51. Igweh J. Chief
52. Idienumah G.S. Mr.
53. Jubril Y.A. Mr.
54. Jimoh L. Mr.
55. Kinsley Akor F. Mrs.
56. Kinsley Akor Mr.
57. Lasisi Olawale Mr.
58. Mohammed M. Mr
59. Michael A. Mrs.
60. Mesoko S. Mr.
61. Mlaguda M. Mr.
62. Mansah S.N.A. Mr.
63. Muhammed Oumar A.B. Mr.
64. Njie Eho Mr.
65. Moru J. Mr.
66. Nize I.O. Chief
67. Okaisabor O. Mr.
68. Oninide D. Mr.
69. Oninide N. Mrs.
70. Olaniyan R. Mrs.
71. Okogwu V. Mrs.
72. Olugbo Nkeiru Mrs.
73. Olumekun J.J. Mr.
74. Okoli Chukwuemeka Mr.
75. Okolo Uche Mr.
76. Oladeji M. Ms.
77. Ofuokwu C. Mr.
78. Obi Mrs.
79. Omang O. Mr.
80. Obiogbolu C.M. Mrs.
81. Olowolayemo G. Mr.
82. Omotade O.A. Mr.
83. Ogbuwaluzor O.G. Mr.
84. Odartey Lamtey E. Mr.
85. Obengamanquah M. Mr.
86. Peter Mann Andreas Mr.
87. Quaye E. Mr.
88. Queen Mr.
89. Raji A.R. Engr.
90. Salihu B. Dr.
91. Shaahu D.P.I Mr.
92. Steven Bayo Mr.
93. Sarah Eshun
94. Sokenu M. Mrs. - (Peoples Bank)
95. Sabulu L.A Mr.
96. Techie Micheal S.R Mr.
97. Thomas S. Mrs.
98. Umaru Hassan Alh.
99. Udeka John Mr. - MD ACB
100. Unokesan Grec Mr.
101. Uriri S. Mr.
102. Umasabor O.A. Mr.
103. Umar A.M. Mr.
104. Uwagboe F. Mr.
105. Uko P.C. Mr.
106. Uyanwune I. Mr.
107. Usman Y. Ms.
108. Wandi A. Mr.
109. Wemuna W. Mrs.
110. Yau S.C. Mr.
111. Yapi Attou Veronique Mrs.

Captain Imasuen Lambert - Okada, Albarka, very experienced
F/O Eshun Ernest


Here is the first reporting on the crash, most of it originating with CNN:

Sun, Oct. 23, 2005
Plane reported missing in Nigeria


Associated Press

LAGOS, Nigeria - A passenger plane carrying 114 people was reported missing shortly after taking off from the Nigerian city of Lagos, officials and media reported Sunday.

The Boeing 737 aircraft, operated by Nigeria-based Bellview Airlines, lost contact with the control tower five minutes after taking off at 8:45 p.m. on Saturday, said Jide Ibinola, a spokesman for the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria. It was headed to the capital, Abuja, on a 50-minute flight.

Ibinola said those aboard included 108 passengers and six crew. Their nationalities were not immediately known.

Pilots issued a distress call before the plane disappeared from radar about 15 miles west of Lagos over the Atlantic Ocean, state television reported.

On its Web site, CNN news said Nigerian aviation authorities had confirmed that the plane had crashed. This could not be immediately confirmed.

Most aircraft take off from Lagos, Nigeria's biggest city, in the direction of the Atlantic, and turn back toward the coast.

"We still don't have any concrete information of what became of the plane," Ibinola said. "We've tried from neighboring countries to see if the plane landed there but there's no such information."

Bellview is a privately owned Nigerian airline that mostly operates a fleet of mostly Boeing 737s on internal routes and throughout West Africa. Bellview's planes first began flying about 10 years ago and the airline has not suffered a crash before.

There was no word on whether the incident was terrorist-related.

Nigeria has never experiernce an international terror attack, but the United States closed its consulate in Lagos for two days in June after what officials said was a phoned-in terror threat.

Nigeria, with a population of 130 million people, is roughly split between a mainly Muslim north and a Christian-dominated south, and sectarian violence has broken out sporadically.

In 2002, Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network claimed responsibility for an attempt to shoot down an Israeli charter airliner in Kenya with shoulder-fired Stinger missiles.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Hackers Take Down I-Hub

Investor's Hub has been disabled by hackers who are amusing themselves by posting clever messages every 10 minutes or so. They have prevented me from posting there an account of the interview I just did with the Credit Suisse analyst who initiated coverage of PXD this morning.

The main news out of that post would have been that he believes PXD won't realize significant revenues from the GoG until 2011, even if they sink the first well in late 2006 or early 2007, and that their profit plan has yet to pass through the grinder of the PSCs.

The brightest PXD prospects, he says, are in Canadian and Tunisian properties, and all onshore.

Here's the stream of clever messages; I recognize the "natemichaud" guy from the ERHC board:


11:50 am EST - Slight tech issue. We'll be back up ASAP.

12:08 pm EST - Churak calls to say he's having iHub withdrawls.

12:10 pm EST - Matt just purchased a ticket to Kansas City, home of Bob, the "tech guy." Baseball bats still allowed onboard planes as carry-on items.

12:25 pm EST - Matt just smoked his first pack of cigarettes. Ever.

12:50 pm EST - dropdeadfred text messages and says hi. olico complains he can't spam. shakerz is going nuts. nevermind, he already was.

1:00 pm EST - Getting close to lunch time. Fish tacos.

1:10pm EST - Pink slip time for Bob.

1:19 pm EST - natemichaud asks if this is a joke. And you people listen to this guy's stock picks??

1:25 pm EST - let's all give a round of applause to EVO. his pick today was the first out of his last 25 to actually go up! congrats, Evo!

Since the 1:15 post, it appears that I-Hub may have regained control of its site. The only message there now is:


2:15 pm EST: Having some technical problems this afternoon. We're working on it.

Later on, it turns out that the hackers have control:

9:30 pm EST: Yep. This is a nasty one. Go downstairs and hang out with the family. It's gonna be an iHub-less night for you. FYI, The World Series of Poker, the Bernie Mac Show, and My Name is Earl is on tonight.

If you're bored, add yourself to this map a member started yesterday:

We recommend that you do not go to the risingconcepts site.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Toyota Honcho See Oil Over $60 For Next Two Years

John M. Biers of the Dow Jones News Service reported minutes ago that the president of Toyota N.A. sees oil prices staying at $60 and above for at least the next two years - news that ERHC Energy investors may be glad to hear as they look for first oil from five blocks in the Nigeria-Sao Tome and Principe Joint Development Zone well within the same period.

Here is the Biers piece, released at 2:57EST:

HOUSTON (Dow Jones)--The president of Toyota Motor Corp's North American operations said Monday he expects crude oil prices to remain above $60 a barrel.

"At least it will remain for 2-3 years at the level over $60," said Hideaki Otaka, President and Chief Executive Officer of Toyota Motor North America Inc. This isn't the company's official forecast.

Crude oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange ended at $64.30 a barrel on Monday, as the market reacted to the prospect of another hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico.

Speaking on the sidelines of an event in Houston, Otaka said it was "painfully apparent" that a high percentage of energy assets in the U.S. are in the Gulf Coast.


Barry Morgan: US Will Get More Than 25 % Of Its Oil From Nigeria

A Barry Morgan article from Oct. 10 that seems to include some of his Thursday UpstreamOnline piece appeared in Business Day on Oct. 14, and the article takes note of the corruption probe that is aimed at ExxonMobil and other multinationals in neighboring
Equatorial Guinea.

October 10th, 2005
Nigeria looks to secure its future as major supplier to the US

The United State of America may plan to take more than 25 per cent of its hydrocarbon needs from western and central Africa by 2015, practically doubling present imports from the region, but Washington will not be alone in seeking to unlock the area's prospective acreage.
By Barry morgan

Nigeria too is playing its own game. Strict local content rules applied to the latest licensing round coupled with preferential treatment for companies willing to invest downstream in return for prized deepwater plots left the majors deeply miffed and they stayed away in droves.

Korean National Oil Company and Taiwan's Chinese Petroleum Corporation swept into prime position, roundly outbidding medium-sized US rivals such as Devin Energy. India ONGC-Videsh won junior equity but Beijing's three oil giant did not even get a look- in. clearly there will be considerable pressure brought to bear on Abuja to relax its regime ahead of next round, planned before 2007. There are also technical questions to answer - recent probes in the western Niger Delta deepwater disappointed the pundits, prompting established players to show caution in committing dollar to unproven plays.

Nonetheless, old Africa hands along with relative newcomers to the Gulf of Guinea such as Noble Energy and Pioneer Natural Resources will be jockeying for position in the Joint Development Zone, reputed to contain upward of 10 billion barrels, managed by Nigeria and Sao Tome under a bilateral protocol. Both entered the fray in partnership with ERHC energy, the US minnow with strong links to Abuja’s power-broker.

Success with Chevron’s upcoming wildcat in the JDZ bloc 1 will boost confidence in the zone and focus Washington’s on how to sure up its interest in the area.

The US is already backing construction of deepwater ports at Neves of Sao Tome and negotiating military support facilities on the archipelago.

With substantial upstream investment onshore Nigeria by Chevron, Exxonmobil and Shell, Abuja aims to raise oil put from 2.5million barrels per day to 4 million bpd by 2010, with liquefied natural gas exports earning more than crude by 2012.

Nigeria is already the fifth biggest crude supplier to the US, yet offers poor security. An upsurge in piracy in southeastern Nigeria coupled with mounting ethic unrest has led one US Nato general to warn that the Federation may fall part under strength.

Incensed by Abuja's refusal to allocate lucrative oil licenses to southern indigenes, ethnic Ijaw leaders this month promise to sabotage exploration and production efforts by the Koreans and the Taiwanese, especially plans to lay gas pipe lines to the northern states.

There are fears the country could implode, bringing down the entire sub-region "its a 3000-mile (4800 kilometers) coast line with no security," agree Daniel Trott of US Naval forces Europe.

More to the point, Osama bin Laden has officially marked the country down for "liberation"- effectively declaring the African Interior a war zone.

Already, US forces are stretched through out the Sahel from Nouakchott to Ndjamena, mopping up terror cells and training partner-states to do the same. Fed by Algerian intelligence, US policy makes fears Mauritania's Slafist-style terror cells may spread to the oil patch.

Nigeria President Olusegun Obasajo this month approved an anti-terror bill covering everything from kidnapping to the destruction of infrastructure even specifying fixed platform in the continental shelves.

At the same time, Defense Chief of Staff General Alex Ogomodia pronounce a combined police military operation to set up protection of oil installation in the Delta.

In a parallel pitch, Nigerian oil Moguls will this month hear overtures from New York based Infinity World Telecom to support the $500,00000 scheme to link all offshore fields to the global Telecom system.

Direct links to onshore facilities are also mooted, by passing reliance on the National utility and underscoring Abuja's concern to keep oil flowing at all cost.

It is a preventive strategy to keep terror off the seas by developing partnerships and capacities, says Trott. To this end, the US is convening a second gathering of regional navel chiefs in Ghana this December.

While making head way in Sao-Tome through US corporate ambition in the Joint Development Zone (JDZ), US military and official have encountered resistance in Equatorial Guinea where Beijing's influence is rising.

Both states are coup -prone with Malabo unable to provide effective security for offshore installations, leaving companies to deploy private guards.

US company military professional resource has been contracted to train local forces to plug the gap, but ostensibly without any quip pro on Malabo's deteriorating human rights front.

Of all the potential hotshots post-war Angola has pleasantly surprised pessimists. Yet issues of financial probity persist, both in Luanda where output growth has been slower and also in Malabo where oil revenue boosted Equatorial Guinea's GDP by 60% in the past two years.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has dragged ExxonMobil, Marathon, Amerada Hess and Devon Energy into protracted enquiries to determine a breach of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Only Nigeria looks set to implement the UK inspired Extractive Industries Transparency but progress is slow and the region will likely continue to be source of embarrassment for western Exploration and Production (E&P) operators.

Recoverable offshore reserves across the West African are from Ivory Coast to Southern Africa are estimated to be in the region of 30 billion barrels, and the influential Washington and Jerusalem-based institute for Advanced Strategies and political studies believes this prospective must drive US foreign policy.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Nigeria Will Revoke Block Leases For Non-Payment, Daukoru Warns; He Takes Tough Stance On Multinationals' Self-Interest

It's unclear exactly what a very forceful statement by Nigerian oil minister Dr. Edmund Daukoru portends for winning bidders in the Nigeria-Sao Tome and Principe Joint Development Zone, but an article in Sunday's Vanguard of Nigeria declares that the country is going to force all bidders in the 77-block 2005 Licensing Round to pony up cash for their non-JDZ leases or give them up. Daukoru also vowed to take back blocks where exploration has not beguin in two years.

The statement seems to be a general one that lays out principles, and it also addresses the issue of Korean oparticipation in exclusively Nigerian oil regions. The Koreans are also bid winners in the JDZ. Hee's what Daukoru said:

"The main reason why our President wanted them (the Koreans) is to invest in our downstream, which is strategically important to us and which we have had difficulties finding companies to do in the past," he said.

The statement seems to say that the Koreans will be given some leeway on prompt payments because of their importance in the development of other infrastructure in the energy sector which, pointedly, the paper says multinationals have failed to do.

More telling, though, is the sense that Nigeria is angry with the majors, and it may be fair to extrapolate from that anger a sense that they are not going to be willing to participate in the investigation fomented by the majors via Sao Tome's attorney general, who is beuing helped by the major players' favorite attorney, R. Dobie Langenkamp of the University of Tulsa's College of Law and its National Energy-Environment Law & Policy Insttuitute, or NELPI. The majors are using the investigation to force smaller companies and particularly the Koreans out of the blocks where they won percentages. Read this carefully:

"Our people must not be deceived into thinking that we will compromise our national interest for any other interest. Oil majors have been operating in this country for decades. They have never been involved in anything other than [to] produce oil and gas. If a partner comes and wants to be involved in the development of Nigeria's infrastructure the government is bound to listen to him," he stated.

Generally, the article seems to bode well for ERHC Energy, which is being carried to first oil by its partners, Pioneer Natural Resources and Noble Energy, while it presents a challenge to some of the smaller local firms who pieces of Blocks 2 through 6 on May 31 of this year.

Here is the article from today's Vanguard:

Govt restates commitment to revoke dormant oil blocs
By Yakubu Lawal, Asst Energy Editor

THE Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Edmund Daukoru, has stated that government will continue to review the work programme on the nation's oil blocks with a view to retrieving the non-performing oil blocs.

Specifically, Daukoru noted that government will retrieve any oil bloc whose operators are unable to meet the specified work programme by the oil industry authority - department of petroleum resources.

"The important thing is that the policy is there, and we intend to implement it. Periodically, we will take a census of blocs that have not been operated for long and then signal and take them back," Daukoru stated.

According to him, except the authority is convinced that the operators' work programme is reassuring, the authority will not leave such bloc but take them back into the national portfolio.

Daukoru stated that the introduction of the "right of first refusal" in the 2005 oil bloc licensing round was done specifically to protect the national interest.

"Our people must not be deceived into thinking that we will compromise our national interest for any other interest. Oil majors have been operating in this country for decades. They have never been involved in anything other than produce oil and gas. If a partner comes and wants to be involved in the development of Nigeria's infrastructure the government is bound to listen to him", he stated.

According to him, there is no irrevocable commitment in the blocs awarded so far, pointing out that after a certain time to be agreed between the parties, the government does not see the railway, the gas pipelines, the mega power generating plants, shipyard, government will revoke the blocs.

"Oil blocs are not things that walk away. In a period of say two years, there is nothing that happens in the oil bloc that will prevent the government from taking it back and give to somebody else that is ready to meet the national aspirations," Daukoru said.

He said some issues will still be revisited on the 2005 licensing round, stressing however that the exercise was carried out in the national interest.

The minister pointed out that the local content vehicle concept also achieved the desired result as those indigenous companies that demonstrated capacity to perform also got what they wanted.

Daukoru said the ministry did the nation a tremendous service by asking the operators to open up the block for others rather than just first sitting on them.

"By putting them (the blocs) back in the basket, we are getting the hands of signature bonuses, which will go a long way in our circumstances", he stated.

He noted that since 2000, government has awarded about 70 blocs in different basin as part of its strategy to boost investment in exploration and production companies and ultimately to increase the national oil reserve whose target has been set at 40 billion barrel by 2010.

Meanwhile, the government has earned a total sum of $2.63 billion from the award of oil blocks to local and foreign companies at the just concluded 2005 Bid Round.

Briefing newsmen in Lagos after the bidding round exercise, Mr. Tony Chukwueke, the director, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), said all the winners were given a deadline of October 2, 2005, to show proof of their ability to pay their various signature bonues offered for the blocks, through the presentation of bank performance bonds.

The deadline has been extended till Friday this week.

Chukwueke said the Production Sharing Contract (PSC) agreement that will govern operations in the blocs would be signed only with awardees that presented the bank guarantee.

According to him, the demand for guarantee was first, to be certain that the winners have the money they quoted ready and more importantly to correct the impression currently circulating within the oil industry that the Nigerian government had used local firms to raise the price of the blocks.

"We have to ensure that we are not just using Nigerians to impose unrealistic prices for the blocs we have offered. To ensure that indeed these Nigerians are serious and can pay the money they put on the table", the DPR director said.

"If by the time we had set for them, that is October 2, which is the PSC signing date according to the guidelines, they will have to show us proof that they can pay that signature bonus. And then 30 days after the signature bonus must be with government", he added.

The results of the bid conferences released recently showed that 44 blocs out of the 77 blocs on offer were allocated.

A breakdown showed that investors won five blocs in the Anambra Basin, two in the Benue trough, while four blocs were won in the Chad Basin.

Investors also snapped up eight blocs in the deepwater region. All the six blocs put on offer in the onshore Niger Delta were snapped up as well as the six in the Continental Sheif.

Chukwueke said that the contentious deepwater blocks, OPLs 321 and 323 awarded to the Korean National Oil Company (KNOC) were done in line with national interest of the country.

"The main reason why our President wanted them (the Koreans) is to invest in our downstream, which is strategically important to us and which we have had difficulties finding companies to do in the past", he said.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

UpstreamOnline: Sao Tome Probe May Not Get Nigerian Help; Sao Tome President Blasts Ex-Communist Attackers

With a few paragraphs, the respected oil industry trade journal UpstreamOnline has cast doubt on the authenticity of a probe directed by the University of Tulsa College of Law's R. Dobie Langenkamp and demolished the likelohood of Nigerian cooperation.

The newspaper reported late Thursday evening that the executive director of the Tulsa law school's oil law institute, NELPI, has pushed the investigation farther than Sao Tome law enforcement's highest authority wanted it to go, and that Nigeria is unlikely to accede to the American oil industry's demands for help in blackening the names of smaller Nigerian firms who won acreage:

Meanwhile, in the JDZ, trouble is fomenting with fresh allegations of impropriety in the awards process.

Although Sao Tome state prosecutor Adelino Pereira initially said there was insufficient proof of corruption, the baton seems to have been picked up by US National Energy Law&Policy Institute executive director Robert Langenkamp who was sent to assist.

The Nigerian side, keen to get JOAs completed and rigs on site with minimal delay, is unlikely to co-operate enthusiastically with the investigation, and has already received a formal request for interviews from Pereira.

The article also bears out the prediction I made in a post on Investor's Hub last week that smaller players would be knocked out of their slots in several of the choice blocks and would see their acreage grabbed by majors like Anadarko Petroleum and Devon Energy who felt disappointed they didn't get more of Blocks 2, 3 and 4 when awards were announced on May 31.

The unsigned article alo revealed that ERHC Energy's substantial interest in those blocks will be carried to first oil - i.e., ERHC's share of development costs will will be paid for by their partners out of the first oil pumped from the highly prospective blocks - by their partners, Pioneer Natural Resources in Blocks 2 and 3, and Noble Energy in Block 4, the most sought-after of the five blocks offered in the 2005 round.

ERHC won operatorships in Blocks 2 and 4, and a substantial minority interest with Pioneer in Block 3.

Players closing in on JDZ final deals


COMPANIES awarded acreage in the recently concluded licensing round in the Joint Development Zone (JDZ) managed by Nigeria and Sao Tome&Principe gathered in Abuja last weekend to hammer out final terms of the Joint Operating Agreements (JOA).
However, concern is growing that several juniors in the equity line-ups decreed for blocks 2, 3 and 4 may not be in a position to easily finance their commitments.

As well as last-minute jockeying for advantage as several mid-sized partners seek to increase their equity stakes, there is a growing consensus among established players on the need to tighten up the language governing participation.

They want the Joint Development Authority (JDA) to insert a clause similar to that successfully sought by Chevron and ExxonMobil on Block 1. In addition to facing the more immediate consequences of not coming up with their share of the signature bonus, junior independents would have to look further ahead to secure their participation in E&P operations.

This may present a problem for indigenous companies with restricted access to project finance.

The JDA is under pressure to insist that every paying participant in a JDZ production sharing agreement should furnish a letter of credit or else escrow sufficient funds to cover its share of the proposed work programme.

If any company fails to do so within a prescribed period it will then be deemed in default. It is further understood that the international players may be seeking even tighter default language than that applied to Block 1 since there is considerably greater indigenous participation in blocks 2, 3 and 4.

Another factor is that US minnow ERHC Energy is carried through to first oil.

The issue is likely to be sensitive in Nigeria as officials are already expecting to push forward the date for payment of signature bonuses on blocks recently awarded onshore and in its own Exclusive Economic Zone.

Several briefcase companies were invited aboard the domestic round, winning equity but raising fears of financial incapacity. None of the winning companies, including Taiwan's Chinese Petroleum Corporation and the Korean National Oil Corporation, posted bank guarantees before the initial deadline and insiders believe the line-up will be recast several times before the dust settles on Nigeria's 2005 round.

Meanwhile, in the JDZ, trouble is fomenting with fresh allegations of impropriety in the awards process.

Although Sao Tome state prosecutor Adelino Pereira initially said there was insufficient proof of corruption, the baton seems to have been picked up by US National Energy Law&Policy Institute executive director Robert Langenkamp who was sent to assist.

The Nigerian side, keen to get JOAs completed and rigs on site with minimal delay, is unlikely to co-operate enthusiastically with the investigation, and has already received a formal request for interviews from Pereira.

In another development on Friday, Oct. 14, Sao Tome President Ferdinand de Menezes lashed out at the ruling ex-Communist party, the MLSTP, charging they were behind a series of defamatory attacks on him and his government.

R. Dobie Langenkamp, executive director of the National Energy-Environment Law & Policy Institute based at the University of Tulsa College of Law, is spearheading the attack on President de Menezes' role in the May 31 award of oil leases in the Nigeria-Sao Tome and Principe Joint Development Zone (JDZ).

The Movement for the Liberation of tSao Tome and Principe (MLSTP) is the former Communist Party of Sao Tome, and island of 170,000 people in the Gulf Of Guinea off the Nigerian coast of West Africa.

ERHC Energy and Noble Energy - two companies not represented on the institute's board - won operatorship in the highly prospective Block 4 that had been sought by Anadarko Petroleum and ExxonMobil, whose lawyers dominate the institute's advisory board.

Sao Tome's president blasts ruling party 2005-10-14 01:26:47

LUANDA, Oct. 13 (Xinhuanet) -- Sao Tome and Principe's President Fradique de Menezes has accused governing Movement for the Liberation of Sao Tome and Principe (MLSTP) of seeking to renege on a pledge to carry out a constitutional referendum on the islands' system of power sharing.

According to reports reaching here on Thursday, the charges made at a news conference appeared to bring the already poor relations between the head of state and Prime Minister Maria do Carmo Silveira's party to a new low ahead of a series of elections expected next year.

De Menezes accused the MLSTP of ordering Silveira's cabinet to transform the civil service into a "partisan" machine by removing non-party members from key posts without "just cause" to make way for party faithful.

He said, the MLSTP, was also behind a "political plot" of "constant attacks" and "insults" aimed to denigrate the president's image. There was no immediate response from leaders of the MLSTP.

During an earlier showdown in 2003, the president and parliament signed an agreement to work together to hold a referendum in 2006, MLSTP leaders have recently backed away, denouncing the scheme as "unconstitutional."

Monday, October 10, 2005

Link To Exxon, Anadarko Seen In Sao Tome Probe Of Oil Deals

Who is Judy Pensabene?

She is the recently-appointed University of Tulsa, Okla., Law School "Distinguished Visiting Professor" who is Chief Counsel of the Senate Energy Committee, and the person whom many suspect is behind a recent Sao Tome-based probe into awards of oil concessions in the Nigeria-Sao Tome Joint Development Zone.

Her husband, attorney Gregory M. Pensabene, is Vice President for Government Relations and a major stockholder in Anadarko Petroleum, the firm that with ExxonMobil fought tiny ERHC Energy and mid-tier player Noble Energy for operatorship of Block 4 of the Joint Development Zone - and lost. Anadarko won a minority interest in the block without ExxonMobil.

Pensabene, who has represented a number of oil and gas companies in private practice, had an apparent conflict of interest when the law school's National Energy Law & Policy Institute (NELPI) - formerly the Institute for Energy Law - sent executive director Robert D. "Dobie" Langenkamp to Sao Tome to "assist" the investigation by the country's attorney general into the awards. Langenkamp's expenses are being paid by the Open Society Institute funded by George Soros, who has purchased 4 percent of the equities of Pioneer Natural Resources, ERHC's partner in Blocks 2 and 3. Pioneer was reportedly the unsuccessful suitor that offered a $2 a share buyout to the ERHC board in July, according to UpstreamOnline. ExxonMobil was offered control of ERHC in 2000 for $6 a share, according to earlier news reports, but declined to accept the offer. In recent years, Langenkamp has argued in speeches and journal articles that the U.S. is entitled to take Iraq's oil to pay the cost of the U.S. occupation there.

ExxonMobil's presumed "foot-dragging" was a principal cause of five-months of delays in the award of the JDZ blocks on May 31 of this year. The company won a portion of Block 1 with operator Chevron in the 2003 bidding round, while all other bids for eight remaining blocks were disqualified. In 2004, the Joint Development Authority offered Blocks 2 through 6 in what became known as the 2005 Round. ERHC Energy, both with partners and alone, won portions of all the blocks due to rights it earned by advising Sao Tome and Principe for several years, and which were upheld by an arbitration panel of the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris in 2003.

Langenkamp, the son of lifelong Gulf Oil (now Chevron) executive who was the author of petroleum reference books that are still in print, is widely known throughout the industry as a former Carter and Clinton administration energy official.

NELPI's Energy Law Journal Editorial Board with Judy Pensabene, TU Law alumna and Chief Counsel, U.S. Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee.
Photo: National Energy-Environment Law and Policy Institute

Pensabene was named to the visiting professor post at her alma mater shortly before the law school institute sent Langenkamp to Sao Tome to "assist" the country's probe of the awards. The U.S. Senate press release announcing her appointment took note of NELPI, strongly suggesting that Pensabene may be guiding Langenkamp's investigation on behalf of the politically powerful energy firms she works with in the Senate.

The man leading the six-week probe, Sao Tome and Principe attorney general Arlindo Pereira, told reporters this week as he started the probe that there "is insufficient evidence" of corruption, and both the nation's president and Joint Development Authority president Carlos Gomes have indicated in later news reports that the probe will have no impact on past awards.

According to the Vanguard, a Nigerian daily:

Sao Tome’s state prosecutor Adelino Pereira said there was so far insufficient proof of corruption in assigning the blocks, a process which was delayed for months amid a dispute between President Fradique de Menezes and opposition groups.

Yet Langenkamp, who seemed to be taking control of the probe from local officials, told Vanguard there was a need for further investigation and that Nigeria's president should aid it:

Dobie Langenkamp, head of the National Energy Environment Law and Policy Institute at the University of Tulsa, said in a statement that further investigation was necessary.

He asked Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo to cooperate in the probe. [See

Six different lawyers for ExxonMobil sit on the NELPI board, including its Chief Attorney, Harlan Martens. Houston-based ExxonMobil and Oklahoma-based Anadarko Petroleum Corp. were fierce competitors for Block 4 of the JDZ, which ultimately went to ERHC Energy of Houston and Noble Energy of Oklahoma>
During the period in which the Nigerioa-Sao Tome Joint Ministerial Council was evaluating the various bids for Block 5, the World Bank reportedly decided that the Noble/ERHC offer was best overall bid because of its promise of an accelerated drilling program that would cost the venture some $40 million; Anadarko's commitment would have cost the company only $10 million, news reports say.

Anadarko has four of its lawyers, including General Counsel Charlene Ripley, on the NELPI board (see

Neither Noble nor ERHC are represented on the 110-member board, which includes lawyers for both Pioneer and Devon Energy, our partner and former partner in Blocks 2 and 3, respectively.

In addition, Langenkamp in 2004 was a member of the Advisory Committee of the Institute for Energy Law, whose Executive Committee was chaired by Theodore Frois, ExxonMobil's General Counsel for Upstream Companies and included ExxonMobil assistant chief attorney as chairman of the IEL Oil & Gas Committee. Tim T. West, Devon Energy's General Counsel for international operations, is also an IEL Executive Committeee member. Devon was the ERHC Energy/Pioneer Natural Resources partner that dropped out of Block 3 after the consortium's bid failed to win an operatorship there.

Most compelling, however, is the fact that Pensabene's husband, Gregory M. Pensabene, is the chairman of Anadarko's PAC, owns 25,000 of its shares - which now sell for $96 - and Anadarko's Vice President for Governmental Relations. Also a Tulsa Law graduate, Gregory Pensabene works out of Anadarko's Washington, D.C., office and lives in nearby Alexandria. The Alexandria-based Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation thanks "Greg and Judy Pensabene" for their donations. A Senate Energy staffer confirmed the two were husband and wife but would not elaborate. (See

At stake is a huge reservoir of oil eagerly sought beneath the Gulf of Guinea's calm blue seas. One interested executive, Said Arrata, is president and CEO of Centurion Energy, which captured a 7.5 percent minority portion of Block 4 in the 2005 bidding.

"We have mapped six prospects on this block, with a combined reserve range of 2.5 to 3.5 billion barrels and two of those prospects contain half of those reserves,” said Arrata. “This is why the big boys are after it," Arrata told, an industry Website (see in late September.

In a statement that accompanied U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici's announcement of her 2003 promotion to Chief Counsel for the Energy Committee, a Domenici press release noted that "Prior to moving to Washington, D.C., Judy practiced law in Tulsa, Oklahoma, representing independent oil and gas producers, primarily in appellate litigation. She holds a law degree from the University of Tulsa, home of the National Energy Law & Policy Institute."

According to the LUSA news agency of Portugal, "The investigation is being assisted by Dobie Langenkamp of the National Energy-Environment Law Institute and should be concluded in six weeks," Sao Tome Atty. Gen. Adelino Pereira told reporters.

Dobie Langenkamp is the father of Heather Langenkamp, Freddie Kreuger's nemesis in several of the "Nightmare On Elm Street" movies, and was Supreme Copurt Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy's roomate at Harvard Law.

According to biographical statements, "Before joining the [Energy] Committee, [Pensabene] was engaged in the private practice of law, primarily in litigation for corporate oil and gas clients, and served as a legal and political consultant in Washington, D.C., to various firms in the energy industry since 1978."

Pensabene is a 1975 graduate of Tulsa Law whose last post was chief counsel for the Constellation Energy Group in Washington between 1995 and 2002. In 1992, she was the chief negotiator for the Senate Energy Committee on the energy law enacted that year.

The Senate Commerce Committee has heard extensive testimony under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act involving ExxonMobil, Chevron, Devon, Pioneer, Noble, Marathon Oil and others in a probe of corruption in the award of oil leases in neighboring Equatorial Guinea, and indictments may yet come from that case.

At a minimum, Pensabene should be required to disclose a complete list of all of her present and former clients and their litigation concerns prior to involving the Tulsa Law School's NELPI institute in a politically-driven probe of companies that may now be their competitors.

Lawyers Respond To Our Probe Reports

ERHC On The Move has received a note from lawyers associated with the International Senior Lawyer Project, a hitherto unknown group, regarding the probe of Sao Tome's acceptance of awards in the Joint Development Zone jointly administered with Nigeria. The lawyers say we have the facts all wrong.

Dear Mr. Shea:

It has come to my attention that you have posted allegations on your blog "ERHC On the Move" regarding the recent initiation in Sao Tome and Principe of an investigation into the second bid round conducted by the Joint Development Authority of Sao Tome and Principe and Nigeria. Assisting in this investigation are two volunteers of the International Senior Lawyers Project. I regret that your blog makes allegations that are completely false, and I would like to bring your attention to the correct facts. Please see the statement that the International Senior Lawyers Project is releasing today attached hereto. [See below.]

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or would like further information.


Jean C. Berman, Esq.
Executive Director
International Senior Lawyers Project
31 W. 52nd Street, 3rd Fl.
New York, N.Y. 10019-6131
Tel: 1-212-880-5836
Fax: 1-212-878-8375

ERHC On The Move is just now beginning the process of learning who this new group is, and what role they may play in the probe by Atty. Gen. Arlhindo Pereira of Sao Tome and Principe.

Here is the press release issued by the ISLP (pronounced I Slip):

October 6, 2005

It has been brought to our attention that the “ERHC On the Move” web-blog of Monday, October 3, 2005, made a number of false statements regarding the investigation of the second bid round conducted by the Joint Development Authority of Sao Tome and Principe and Nigeria. The Attorney General of Sao Tome and Principe is pursuing this investigation in response to concerns expressed by the National Assembly and the citizens of Sao Tome and Principe.

In connection with the investigation, the Attorney General requested assistance from the International Senior Lawyers Project (ISLP). ISLP is a U.S.-based international non-profit organization that provides pro bono legal assistance to various international governmental and non-governmental groups. ISLP has a roster of experienced lawyers to call upon to provide this voluntary assistance. The activities of ISLP are explained more fully on our web site,

In response to the Attorney General’s request, ISLP provided two volunteers to assist with the investigation: R. Dobie Langenkamp, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy and currently a law professor at the University of Tulsa, and Becky Jacobs, a law professor at the University of Tennessee with oil industry experience. Both volunteers are providing their services without charge on an individual basis. The University of Tennessee, the University of Tulsa, and the National Energy Law and Policy Institute at the University of Tulsa are not involved in the investigation, nor are any entities affiliated with these institutions.

The blog asserts that Ms. Judy Pensabene, Chief Counsel to the United States Senate Energy Committee, is connected to the investigation. This is completely false. She has had no connection whatsoever with the initiation or ongoing conduct of this investigation and to our knowledge was not even aware of its existence until these false statements appeared on the “ERHC On the Move” web-blog. Nor has she any connection with the International Senior Lawyers Project, nor, except for one guest lecture, the National Energy Law and Policy Institute. The Attorney General initiated this investigation because of serious concerns expressed by the National Assembly of Sao Tome and Principe in May of this year regarding the conduct of the second bid round. We understand that his office took this action without consultation with any person outside of Sao Tome and Principe.

As far as we are aware, no representative of the “ERHC On the Move” web-blog attempted to contact ISLP or the Attorney General before posting these false statements. It is regrettable that these allegations appeared without any attempt to determine their veracity.

After examining their site for the first time today, I noted that nowhere on the site (except in this press release, which I could not find there), I found no mention whatever of the Sao Tome and Principe probe or their role in it. In contrast, however, the Nigerian newspapers have mentioned the National Energy-Environment Law and Policy Institute several times in connection with the probe.

Information available as recently as today, however, continues to show R. Dobie Langenkamp as the Executive Director of NELPI (aka the Energy Law Institute), and at least 10 representatives of Anadarko and ExxonMobil on its board, and the main photo on the NELPI Website homepage ( shows Judy Pensabene with students who publish NELPI's Energy Law Journal.

So far, only the Vanguard and the Daily Trust have mentioned the Pereira investigation, and both newspapers referenced Langenkamp in connection with the National Energy-Environment Law Institute, and neither paper mentioned the ISLP.