Although the company has repeatedly said that it won't issue a press release on whatever it has found beneath the deep blue waters of the Gulf until it has completed an evaluation of the results in April, Platts' Jacinta Moran said Tuesday that Sao Tome officials have told her a press release could come as early as "today or tomorrow."
But beyond that miscalculation, the problem for investors is this: If the find is a billion barrels, ERHC Energy investors have known about it since we first broke the story of "big oil" back in early February. The 34 market makers who trade our stock also know. So do the millions of people who have read articles by Norval Scott in the Dow Jones premium wire, David Ivanovich of the Houston Post, and Ken Silverstein of the Los Angeles Times.
Throw in articles in Forbes, The New Yorker, the great book by Joel C. Rosenberg called The Christmas Strike, and what you have is not a marketplace that is ignorant of ERHC Energy but one that is wary of it, perhaps too much so.
And you always have to wonder if talking to Sao Tome leaders isn't like talking to the Joint Development Authority - they're wrong every time but once. They were also wrong about "today or tomorrow," as tomorrow was yesterday, March 29.
Here's the Platt's article, courtesy of Mark St. Amour and two days late:
OILGRAM NEWS VOLUME 84 / NUMBER 59 / TUESDAY, MARCH 28, 2006
Anticipation builds on Chevron well in Sao Tome-Nigeria JDZ
Paris - The government of Sao Tome and Principe March 27 said partners operating Block 1 in the Joint Development Zone, who may have struck a substantial find, would present a report on the results of early drilling before the end of this week.
"We are still waiting on the announcement of Chevron. We have been hearing rumors, but we are still waiting on the official announcement, which could be today or tomorrow," Sao Tome National Petroleum Agency Executive Director Luis Prazeras said
in a telephone interview.
Strong indications have emerged in recent weeks that Chevron has encountered a substantial oil-bearing structure in the exploration well Obo-1 in Block 1, which also may straddle ERHC Energy's Block 2 in the JDZ.
Operator Chevron and partners ExxonMobil, Dangote-EER and Afren started drilling the
60-day well in mid-January. The block will test the potential of Nigeria and Sao Tome's shared offshore region and has generated considerable interest from global upstream players.
Chevron has a 51% stake in Block 1, ExxonMobil 40% and Nigerian Dangote-EER/Afren 9%. The consortium won exploration rights to the block with a $123 million bid in an October 2003 tender.
The potential discovery of offshore oil reserves has generated expectations among the impoverished citizens, but Sao Tome President Fradique de Menezes repeatedly has said his government plans to use the new oil revenues to tackle poor health and education.
World Bank and International Monetary Fund officials have held talks with de Menezes to discuss ways to regulate the spending of oil revenues.
"Of course, this will have a big impact on the country. Sao Tome is a small and poor country and we want to do what is proper for the country," Prazeras said.