Wednesday, March 01, 2006

No Apology Demanded Of Sao Tome, Daukoru Says; Sinopec Awaiting Beijing Approval: Will It Come?

Dr. Edmund Daukoru, the Nigerian Oil Mnister and President of OPEC, today indicated that his demand last Friday for an apology from Sao Tome was not intended. Daukoru said that the JDZ's international partners seek only “to reconfirm that Sao Tome and Principe remains an investor-friendly nation”.

In a story posted on I-Hub by Rambus, a regular poster there, from Nigeria's Daily Independent, Daukoru said he merely wanted to be certain that a clarification of the issue that prompted last Friday's blowup at a meeting of the Nigeria-Sao Tome and Principe Joint Ministerial Council that was supposed to sign Production Sharing Contracts for Block 4 was understood by Sao Tome officials.

Daukoru's withdrawal of the demand eases a diplomatic impasse in which Nigeria aparently was responsible for a "due process" error he mistakenly blamed Sao Tome's delegation for reacting against, with the result that Sao Tome officials may feel an apology is due them.

Until cooler heads prevailed and Daukoru gracefully withdrew his demand, the impasse had enough significant to indefinitely delay further PSC signings. Those are now slated for March 14, when the Block 4 PSC, and possibly one for Block 3, should be finally signed at a ceremony in Abuja.

The Block 2 signing, however, may still be held up by an absence of approval for Sinopec, the seventh-largest oil company in the world and China's second-largest, to become ERHC Energy's joint-venture partner in its 25 percent equity position in Block 3.

It is unclear when that approval might come, as ERHC's rights are derived from Sao Tome, with which Beijing is displeased as a result of the islands' support for Taiwanese independence, a hot topic in China these days after the Taiwan president's dismantling of the country's National Unification Council over Beijing's objections.

Beijing snubbed Sao Tome when it approved debt forgiveness for all the former Portuguese colonies in Africa except Sao Tome and Principe last week. Those two issues may presage a role for ChevronTexaco in the block, if indeed it wants one. CVX has reportedly encountered two deposits of oil there that straddle the Block 1/Block 2 midline, putting ERHC Energy in an enviable position to decide who its partners will be while being assured of oil being present in the block. ChevronTexaco has not yet said it did hit oil, though.

Nigeria-DRSTP Joint Development Authority officials who run the show apparently feel that signing Block 3 would not further complicate the up-in-the-air negotiations for Block 2, where Sinopec and Addax Petroleum have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with ERHC Energy.
In Block 3, despite initial reports, only Addax Petroleum is currently ERHC's partner. It is uknown if Sinopec actually seeks a role there.

Here is the story fragment - the last two paragraphs of an unrelated story on Daukoru's talks with Equatorial Guinea - posted by Rambus:

Meanwhile, the minister has denied that the Federal Government has demanded apologies from the government of Sao Tome and Principe over the botched Production Sharing Contract (PSC) signing ceremony for Bloc 4 of the Nigeria-Sao Tome Joint Development Zone (JDZ) earlier scheduled for last February 24.

Contrary to reports that Dakoru demanded an apology, the ministry’s spokesman, Emmanuel Agbegir, pointed out that he merely said that it was necessary for that country to let the international partners to understand that the postponement was as a result of its request for more time to study the PSC and the Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) “to reconfirm that Sao Tome and Principe remains an investor-friendly nation”.

Here is a link to the rest of the story:

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