Friday, January 27, 2006

Energy Compass Says Memon Was 'Worn Out' By Sao Tome Soap Opera

In another one of those brief, pricey blurbs that shows they've carefully read this blog, Energy Compass (a division of Energy Intelligence) slants another article against ERHC Energy.

Notably, the same publication has done almost no reporting on bribery allegations against majors like ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, Devon Energy, Marathon Oil, Noble Energy and others that have come before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, where more hearings are currently blocked by oil-state Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska).

Here is their latest weave:

Soap opera continues in Sao Tome bid round
337 words
27 January 2006
Energy Compass
(c) 2006 Energy Intelligence Group. All rights reserved

A fresh chapter opened last week in the saga over awards in the joint development zone between Nigeria and Sao Tome and Principe, when ERHC Energy (EE), the controversial company with rights to stakes in several blocks, lost its president. Sources say Ali Memon left of his own accord after 16 months, worn out by the tussles that have paralyzed progress towards joint operating agreements and production sharing contracts.

Nigerian-owned, US-listed EE has interests in Blocks 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. These include equity conferred by a controversial agreement between Sao Tome and Environmental Remediation Holding Co. (ERHC) -- EE's previous incarnation -- as well as equity gained through joint bids with partners (EC Oct.7,p4). The company has since lost two US partners. Devon Energy, which bid with EE and Pioneer for 65% of Block 2 and 25% of Block 3, pulled out last year, as did Noble Energy, which bid with EE for 60% and operatorship of Block 4. The duo were initially resigned to carrying EE, but quailed at the prospect of carrying other small firms owned by influential Nigerians and became concerned about reputational risk (EC Nov.4,p9).

Sao Tome officials also oppose EE's recent decision to appoint Swiss Addax in Noble's place. They are thought to prefer Anadarko, the original high bidder, which ended up being pushed out of Block 4 into Block 3 under Nigerian pressure in post-bid machinations.

A suit brought by a former Romanian partner could prove a further nail in EE's coffin. Retrom is suing Chrome Oil Services, another company belonging to EE's owner, Chief Emeka Offor, for almost $1.4 million. Retrom accuses Chrome of failing to pay for services in managing turnaround and maintenance at Nigeria's Port Harcourt refinery. After a Paris arbitration court recommended that Chrome and its partners pay Retrom $880,000 plus interest, the Romanians took the case to the high court in Lagos.

As one might expect, there was a mixed reaction to the news on I-Hub. Below is a selection of comments. Here's one from Europe:

Posted by: claudealain
In reply to: None Date:1/27/2006 7:31:46 AM
Post #of 19496

The fact that everybody is against ERHE clearly shows, that everybody wants what ERHE has (rights to billions of BO and therefore to multibillions of USD)! Everybody is envious, plain and simple!

I'm still accumulating slowly and patiently waiting. Long & strong ERHE!

GLTA, Claude Alain

Here's a quintessentially American take:

Posted by: upatnight
In reply to: stun who wrote msg# 19486 Date:1/27/2006 6:00:34 AM
Post #of 19496

Another editorialized article which has little bearing on the truth. Lacks any mention that ERHE replaced Memon and indeed Memon was more than likely shown the door. And a "nail in the coffin", what kind of horse#### is that?! Offer is sued for 1.4 mil, which is pocket change for him and this biased article ties it to ERHE.

And here's my own favorite:

Posted by: stun
In reply to: Art2004 who wrote msg# 19487 Date:1/27/2006 5:58:15 AM
Post #of 19496

Must say that the same thoughts occurred to me. I also find it hard to believe that Memon voluntarily left and that there just happened to be a successor all primed and ready to go on the sidelines.

It must be difficult for a publication which relies so much on information from the oil majors to look objectively at minnow upstarts!

Not wishing to bring politics into it, but obviously security of supply is quite a theme in the US now. Do people believe that the US Govt might intervene against ERHE in favour of large multi-nationals, or am I having illusions of whisper-quiet black helicopters again?

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