Monday, March 31, 2008

ERHE Set To Open At $0.59

ERHE is set to open $0.07 higher than it closed on Friday, an unprecedented kind of leap for this stock and and yet another indication it is headed for the stratosphere.

Three purchases of 7,500 shares went off at $0.54 and then $0.59 in the early extended hours trading.

Now, a total of 20,000 shares have traded at this price.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Comments. Anyone?

With time, wounds heal. The rotten spam produced by the former moderator of the Investor's Hub message board is behind me now, and I have reopened the board here to comments for the first time in a couple of years. Just click on the "Comments" link at the bottom of the post to begin the registration process.

I can't say I haven't learned a few things. To comment, you must register and become a member of the blog, just as you would at Investor's Hub. In addition, we have an addition level of screening; posts must be approved by me before they are can be read by others.

I will not approve spammed comments, libelous stuff, undue criticism or bad language. You are welcome to criticize or praise ERHC Energy, its officers, directors and shareholders, and I just ask that you do so in a tone of constructive fairness. A failure to be fair won't get your post canned, though; it will just persuade me and other readers the poster is not a reliable voice.

It just occurred to me that I haven't checked the mailbox where those posts go, so I'd better do so now.

Meanwhile, there are many of you I look forward to hearing from, and I hope you'll soon be writing to us. This past week, on three days we had more than 500 readers, and I wouldn't be surprised if that number didn't increasae with the share price!

See you soon: Enjoy!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Who Reads This Blog, Anyway?

One answer to that question is "Folks in Houston, folks at the beach, and folks in Canada," at least based on a cursory glance at the origins of our last 100 visitors.

Here's the list: Can you pick out your hometown?

United States Buffalo, New York
United States
United States
United States Bradenton, Florida
United States Tulsa, Oklahoma
United States Cape Coral, Florida
United States Pensacola, Florida
United States Newhall, California
United States Los Angeles, California
Canada Ottawa, Ontario
United States Victoria, Texas
United States Cordova, Tennessee
United States Abbeville, Louisiana
United States Sherman Oaks, California
United States Absecon, New Jersey
Canada Brampton, Ontario
United States Atlanta, Georgia
United States Houston, Texas
United States Anchorage, Alaska
United States Las Vegas, Nevada
Canada Ottawa, Ontario
Canada Vancouver, British Columbia
United States Houston, Texas
United States Port Allen, Louisiana
United States Carson City, Nevada
United States Overland Park, Kansas
United States Opelousas, Louisiana
United States
United States Austell, Georgia
United States Fernandina Beach, Florida
United States Huntington Beach, California
United States Boynton Beach, Florida
United States Houston, Texas
United States Flower Mound, Texas
United States Cheyenne, Wyoming
United States Caledonia, Michigan
United States Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
United States New York
United States Little Rock, Arkansas
United States Colorado Springs, Colorado
United States Tampa, Florida
United States Houston, Texas
United States Flemington, New Jersey
United States New Orleans, Louisiana
United States Wilton, Connecticut
United States Los Angeles, California
United States Huntsville, Texas
United States La Mirada, California
United States Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
United States Houston, Texas
United States New York
United States Las Vegas, Nevada
United States Burnsville, Minnesota
New Zealand Levin
United States
United States Portland, Oregon
United States
United States Moss Point, Mississippi
United States Los Angeles, California
Germany Barsinghausen, Niedersachsen
Canada Montreal, Quebec
United States West New York, New Jersey
United States Wayne, Pennsylvania
United States Johnson City, New York
United States Redondo Beach, California
United States Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
United States Lafayette, Louisiana
Nigeria Kano
United States San Francisco, California
United States University Park, Pennsylvania
United States Arlington, Texas
United States Shawnee, Kansas
United States Los Angeles, California
United States Leona, Texas
Germany Barsinghausen, Niedersachsen
United States Galveston, Texas
United States Winter Park, Florida
United States Houston, Texas
United States Plano, Texas
United States Chicago, Illinois
United States
United States Houston, Texas
United States West Palm Beach, Florida
United States Brentwood, New York
United States Boca Raton, Florida
United States Boca Raton, Florida
United States Bloomington, Indiana
United States Hacienda Heights, California
United States Boca Raton, Florida
United States Springdale, Arkansas
United States Riverside, Rhode Island
United States Kirkland, Washington
United States Galveston, Texas
United States Metropolis, Illinois
United States Great Bend, Kansas
United States Washington, District of Columbia
United States Quincy, Massachusetts
United States Bradenton, Florida
United States La Habra, California

Friday, March 28, 2008

What A Wonderful Week It Was

Well, we're up 100 percent in the past week, surpassing the expectations of even the most ardent and vocal longs. Why did it happen, and what does it mean?

First, it means that Sir Emeka Offor can exercise his option to buy 1,000,000 shares at $0.25 he`was granted last year and make $270,000 doing so at Friday's closing price. That ought to put him a good mood next week. Then there's 5,250,000 shares that were issued to Feltang International for its help in securing the Sinopec tie-up after we'd lost several of our earlier drilling partners. That's $2,730,000 for them, whoever they are. And SEO's net worth, based on 303,000,000 shares, rose $82,000,000.

Beyond that, hundreds of shareholders suddenly found themselves once again in the black. That would have been $22,000 and change - not a bad haul for one week - had I stayed in, but I sold all but 100 shares at my wife's urging at $0.29. I've been talking to her about that.

But to me, the most important accomplishment of this wonderful week for investors was the cushion we've given ourselves against any indictments that may come down from the Federal Grand Jury in Houston that is looking into bribery claims proffered by the Attorney General of Sao Tome & Principe, the love child of R. Dobie Langenkamp and George Soros, the billionaire formerly allied with our onetime partner, Pioneer Natural Resources, and God knows who else.

If the indictments come down now, they would surely drive the price down, too - but maybe just to $0.25 or so, and that fall would probably be followed by a very quick rebound. I don't see how even a conviction could do lasting harm, unless they allowed a character clause in the JDZ agreement (and there is one) to be exercised, so that our concession rights return to the JDZ for resale.

But as there is evidently (!) no evidence for a conviction, and probably not even for an indictment. or even the protracted investigation that began a year ago Tuesday with the raid on our Houston offices, I expect the SEC to seek a fine in the $300,000 range that would not require an admission of guilt. I think ERHC, even if innocent of the charges, wouild probably accept that to make it all go away before drilling.

My hunch is that if the indictments come down at all, it will be soon. I'm not sure what the term of the jury is, but if it is the standard year, they will happen soon if at all. We need to call the U.S. District Clerk of the Court next week and see what's shaking with that.

In fact, it's possible that our attorneys have learned on the QT that indictments are unlikely and signaled the company. The company couldn't say that in a press release until it's officially cleared or indicted, and I'm not sure how word would spread to other shareholders who want to see the price rise. It could, though, I suppose.

But let's do some guessing. I can't see the steady march from $0.22 to to $0.52 occurring as it has without a powerful driver. I did give it a good write-up in The American Reporter, and some very, very wealthy and powerful people do read our paper around the world, not only from Europe but places like Iran, Syria, China and Russia, where people likely to know about the paper are also likely to be well-heeled.

On top of that, I have made some pretty strong points in recent weeks that riled a lot of investors who misread it, as when I said it was time to sell your shares - if you want to get screwed in a hurry out of a much better price. That seemed to have the effect of locking down the share price around $0.22 for a week or so, so it didn't fall back to $0.18 or $0.19 as it had repeatedly done for months and months earlier. This bloh currently averages 410 readers per day, according to Site Meter.

Then came balance_builder's report on the whiteboard that seemed to show the outlines of a future deal. Both the p.r. man who writes for ERHC Energy, Dan Keeney, and the company in the CEO's Update tried to knock the rumor cold, but the excitement was then exacerbated by an Addax presentation that seems to show a vast amount of oil waiting for us in Block 4. The whiteboard was an iomportant catalyst, as was the seismic from Addax of the Kina formation under Block 4 of the Nigeria-Sao Tome & Pirncipe Joint Development Zone..

Finally, the company repeated its guidance that there would likely be drilling in the fourth quarter of 2008, which - especially from the viewpoint of people who have held the stock for five years or more - is not very long to wait.

Well, that's the big picture. Drilling is a few months ahead, the seismics look terrific, the indictments haven't come and now the penny traders are pouring in over the transom. Can we go to $1.00?


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Luca Updates Shareholders: Drilling In 2008

Acting ERHC Energy CEO Nicolae Luca has released another of the company's useful monthly updates, this one closer to spelling out the drilling date for Block 4, where the company has a 26.7% interest - "as early as the last quarter of 2008" - and also called attention to the Addax presentation that seems to promise huge quantitites of oil in Block 4 and other concessions:

The images showcase what geologists and engineers, using advanced technologies, have determined lies beneath 5,000 feet of water and sand on the bottom of the Gulf of Guinea.

The company again debunked the "whiteboard" rumors, declaring the photos (see below)merely reflective of ERHC's general plans and not of any specific deal:

ERHC Energy has not signed any letters of intent (LOIs), memoranda of understanding, undertakings or any other form of legal obligation related to any information or transaction that might appear to be depicted in the photograph.

PR Man Dan Keeney was even more precise earlier in the week (see post below).

The date for Block 2 was simply 2009, with no quarter asked or given, and for Block 2 as simply "2009."

The company also disclosed that it turned down a proposal to byuy an unstated interestin a Vietnames mining operation, and that it is still looking for such opportunities.

Here is the update, just released:

Interim CEO Updates ERHC Energy Inc. Shareholders

HOUSTON, TX, Mar 27, 2008 (MARKET WIRE via COMTEX) -- The following update on Company activities was issued by Nicolae Luca, interim chief executive officer of ERHC Energy Inc. (OTCBB: ERHE), on Thursday, March 27, 2008.
"To ERHC Shareholders:

"I am pleased once again to provide an update on the recent progress of ERHC Energy Inc.

"Our team continues to make progress toward exploration of some of our assets in the Gulf of Guinea, off the coast of West Africa. ERHC Energy's assets in the Gulf of Guinea include interests in the deepwater Joint Development Zone (JDZ) as well as interests in the territorial waters of Sao Tome and Principe known as the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). To date, attention has been focused on JDZ Blocks 2, 3 and 4.

"JDZ Block 4 is most likely to be the first of our exploratory drilling locations. ERHC has a 26.7 percent (1) participating interest in JDZ Block 4. Our technical partner, Addax Petroleum, an experienced exploration and production company with significant interests throughout the JDZ, is the operator of JDZ Block 4. Addax executives have indicated that drilling could commence as early as the fourth quarter of this year. The Joint Development Authority (JDA), which was set up by the governments of Nigeria and Sao Tome and Principe to administer the JDZ, has approved the first drilling location, the Kina Prospect.

"Initial exploration of JDZ Block 2, in which ERHC Energy has a 22 percent participating interest, is currently expected to commence in 2009. Sinopec Corp. is the operator of JDZ Block 2. As we have stated previously, Sinopec and Addax Petroleum jointly contracted the Aban Abraham deepwater drillship, which continues to undergo refurbishment in Singapore. Discussions continue regarding the specific drilling location in JDZ Block 2.

"In JDZ Block 3, in which ERHC Energy has a 10 percent participating interest, the JDA has approved the first well location at what is known as the Lemba Prospect. Anadarko is the operator of JDZ Block 3 and has not disclosed a potential timeline for exploration.

"If you have not recently visited the ERHC Web site, I encourage you to review the latest seismic images that have been disclosed by our technical partner, Addax Petroleum, at The images showcase what geologists and engineers, using advanced technologies, have determined lies beneath 5,000 feet of water and sand on the bottom of the Gulf of Guinea.

"ERHC remains interested in diversifying its asset and investment portfolio. As reported several months ago, ERHC's board of directors approved the reformulation of ERHC's business plan and expansion of strategic focus in August 2007. Greater flexibility was therefore granted to the Company's leadership, letting us explore opportunities beyond the Gulf of Guinea. Most recently, after due consideration and technical appraisal of a proposal to acquire a significant stake in a company pursuing mining investments in South East Asia, ERHC decided not to pursue the proposal. Going forward, ERHC will continue to consider opportunities in mining and minerals in addition to possible acquisitions in oil and gas.

"Plans are taking shape for ERHC Energy's annual shareholders' meeting on April 22, 2008. The requisite notice of meeting and proxy statement were filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on March 17, 2008. The documentation has been mailed to all shareholders of record as of that date. The meeting will be held at the Renaissance Houston Hotel in Houston, Texas. We hope to see you there.

"ERHC Energy's annual report for 2007 has been completed and is also being sent to shareholders of record as of March 17, 2008. The annual report extends the Company's theme, 'Deep Opportunity.' The annual report continues our telling of the ERHC story and we encourage you to pass it along to others.

"Speaking of telling the ERHC story, the ERHC Energy staffers were doing a lot of that at Nigeria Oil & Gas 2008, a major conference and exhibition in Abuja, Nigeria where ERHC had a significant presence as sponsor and exhibitor. Some photographs from the event have been posted on our Web site and if you have not already seen them, please do so. According to conference organizers, the event attracted nearly 4,400 visitors, approximately 1,100 conference delegates and more than 100 journalists. It was an enormous success. Stories featuring ERHC Energy have already appeared in a number of trade publications.

"And finally, we have received a number of questions from shareholders regarding the significance of a photograph used in various marketing materials and posted online in February. As we have consistently stated, ERHC's management continues to explore options, proposals and prospects that might advance the interests of the Company and our shareholders. It is important to note, however, that ERHC Energy has not signed any letters of intent (LOIs), memoranda of understanding, undertakings or any other form of legal obligation related to any information or transaction that might appear to be depicted in the photograph. In the event that the ERHC leadership signs or enters into any LOIs or agreements related or giving rise to any material transaction, we will publicly disclose that information by the requisite means of dissemination.

"On behalf of the entire ERHC Energy family, thank you for your ongoing trust and support."

Sincerely, Nicolae Luca
Acting Chief Executive Officer

What A Dope!

Investors who never cared much for me, anyway, have the right to gloat this week. I sold 81,000 shares at $0.29, aceing myself out of more than $8,000 in gains since then. The stock hit $41 today.

Why is the runup happening? I like to think it's because of the write-up I gave the stock in The American Reporter, my online newspaper, on the Monday morning when it looked like Bear Stearns Cos. was going to crash and take the financial world down with it.

If investors wanted advice, I told them, I'd recommend ERHE despite some issues concerning the SEC and FBI.

And I pointed out that the biggest of all oil and gold speculators - the "commercials" - have amassed the largest short position in history on both those commodities.

So what happened? Well, the same day that appeared, gold hit an all-time high of $1,032 per ounce, and oil was at $111, I think. Immediately thereafter, though, gold sufffered its greatest one-day drop - about $75 an ounce - and oil also fell sharply.

ERHE, however, has risen more than 50%.

Do as I say, not as I do. And congratulations to all those myriad investors who stuck with the stock through thick, thin and profit.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I'm Out - At Least For Now

I liquidated all but 100 shares of my 81,625-share position today at an average of $0.29, earning around $3,200 on an investment made in about six buys between last June and early March. I suspect I'll be back in again before long. I continue to believe in this stock, but I need some money to live on, too, and it freed up four times the proceeds for margin buys.

Bear Stearns, anyone?

'Whiteboard' Niotes Were Staged, Meaningless, ERHC's PR Man Says

Dan Keeney, the much-improved public relations man for ERHC Energy, tried to pop the balloon of interest that has seized Investor's Hub ever since an investior gave Balance Builder a few blow-ups of a photograph showing apparent deal-making in the works at a recent Nigeria Oil & Gas conference. Speculation has been that the various notes on the whiteboard show ERHC's desire to attract investment, form a new entity on the TYoronto Stock Exchange and acquire new properties in the Nigerian Gulf of Guinea.

That;s pure imagination, says Kenney, responding to one investor named Dr. J.:

Dear Dr. J

I’ll tell you want I’ve told others: Shareholders are certainly welcome to apply whatever amount of significance to anything they please, but as is the case with most photos included in marketing materials, this came from a photo shoot and all the elements, including what was on the flip chart, were created and staged for the purposes of this shot. The person “presenting” is the company’s administrative assistant, Sarah Kanorwala. I can assure you that she is acting and that all elements of this shot were created for the shot. In other photos from this shoot, the company’s receptionist, Carol, is among those participating in the “meeting.” It was all created for the shoot and to create interesting visual elements for the photo, nothing more than that.

Well, at least we know who the beautiful brunette is!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Wow! Great Detective Work Illuminates ERHC's Buyout / Acquisition Plan

An extraordinary revelation on Good Friday by Investor's Hub moderator balance_builder has the whole board talking - and all of us scratching our heads as we try to make sense of a white board presentation, apparently from a road trip or the Nigerian Oil & Gas Conference last Fall. Click on any of the photos below to enlarge them.

First, here's the link to the Flash video in question, with balance_builder's instructions on how to isolate and zoom the whiteboard:

Click on the flash video presentation (link below) that ERHC aired at the 2/08 Nigeria Oil and Gas conference.

While reviewing the video you will need to freeze it at the point where you see the very pretty brunette standing at the white board with marker in hand.

How to Freeze Video to show desired slide:
As video slides progress, left hand click then right hand click. This will bring up a list of commands. Put your cursor on "back" and when the purty bruness comes up click on "back". You will now be froze onto the desired slide. From there, you can zoom in and out to read ERHC's "white board".

Here's the photo, part 1:

The discussion of Addax and other players and their percentagers in the various blocks of the Joint Development Zone seems to lead into a discussion of investing in ERHC Energy or "portfolio exchange," which means exchanging stocks in one prtfolio for stock in another, and then goes on to discuss a new entity, possibly on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The word "Brenner" apparently refers to athe Brenner investment advisory group whose presenter, the pretty brunette, may be financial analyst Erlinda Arriola of El Paso.

Here's second short of the picture, focusing on the right side:

The same people who have been trying to keep the share price down by pooh-poohing talk of a buyout are angry with balance_builder for revealing the pictures, saying he may botch up some deal the company has in the works.

The only issue I have with that is that any secret deal would involve getting our shares on the cheap, as has been the case for almost a year. As soon as word leaks out on Monday morning that some sort of deal is actively being contemplated, I bet the price will rise. Remember, this is a three-day weekend... . (For new readers, this infamous phrase was coined by me a couple of years ago when I noticed that many of the major developments with ERHC Energy were announced at the tail end of a three-day weekend, which may have given some investors an opportunity to trade ERHE on German exchanges, for instance, while US exchanges were closed. I was much derided until, of course, the award of the block percentages to ERHE came at the end of a three-day weekend.

Here's a shot including the lovely presenter:

And finally, below you'll find a final shot that some poster did to transmute the content of the board into normal type. The choice of words represents a general consensus about what the words and phrases in the photographs actually areas opposed to what, in sum, they mean::

Again, this one interprets the whiteboard content:

Thursday, March 20, 2008

ERHC Goes All YouTube

Well, that's surely an exaggeration, but the debut performance of Technical VP James Ledbetter on an Internet video about the company's Gulf of Guinea prospects got largely negative reviews for performance but excellent reviews for knowledge, which probably suits Ledbetter fine.

Generally, investors thought he looked nervous (by contrast, watch me debate two Republican strategists on Iranian television on the afternoon of March 4; not a tremor in sight!).

Seriously, Jim, you were just fine. Here's the link:

Anticipation Builds

ERHC Energy has formally noticed its Annual Shareholder Meeting, and there's lots of talk on Investor's Hub about going or not going and especially the content of a proposed shareholder motion from the floor at the April 22 meeting. Suspecting that it is a motion to sell the company, the price of our shares has been moving fitfully in a modestly upward direction.

The kinds of gains we have seen in recent weeks, in which the share price has marched from $0.18 to $0.25 today, are not usually supported in the summer months and investors may find that is the case again this year. However, there is a very substantial difference between this and other years, and that is the possibility that we will drill for oil with our partners Addax and Sinopec sometime in the late Fall. That would be wonderful, and I think people are wisely declining to sell their cheap shares and forgo those profits that could result in October.

I am hard-pressed to hang in to my shares with all the other bills that pile up, but I resisted the temptation to sell them all today in hopes i can make a little money somewhere else and buy them back at the same price next week. Better to wait, I decided, even though I can't imagine that the FBI and SEC investigations should extend much longer before a grand jury in Houston decides whether or not to hand down indictments.

As I've said repeatedly (and besides having won a Supreme Court case, Shea v. Reno, I've spent a lot of time writing about and covering the courts, and learned a thing or two from my Uncle Billy, who was state court judge in New York for 21 years, I don't believe they have the evidence to do anything but strongarm us out of a $300,000 fine, if that.

Well, here's the first two pages of the SEC filing, which also seeks the re-election of existing directors:


5444 Westheimer Road, Suite 1440,
Houston, Texas 77056

March 17, 2008

To the Holders of Shares of Common Stock:

You are cordially invited to attend the Annual Meeting of Shareholders of ERHC Energy Inc. (the “Company”), which will be held at 3:00 p.m. on April 22, 2008 at The Renaissance Houston Hotel, 6 Greenway Plaza East, Houston, Texas 77046.

Information about the Annual Meeting, including matters on which shareholders will act, may be found in the Notice of Annual Meeting and Proxy Statement accompanying this letter. We look forward to greeting in person as many of our shareholders as possible.

We request that you mark, sign, date, and mail the enclosed proxy card promptly.

Prompt return of your voted proxy will reduce the cost of further mailings. You may revoke your voted proxy in the manner described in the accompanying Proxy Statement at any time prior to its exercise at the meeting, or you may vote in person if you attend the meeting. Returning the proxy does NOT deprive you of your right to attend the Annual Meeting. If you decide to attend the Annual Meeting and wish to change your proxy vote, you may do so automatically by voting in person at the meeting.

We look forward to greeting you at the Annual Meeting of Shareholders on April 22, 2008.

Sincerely yours,


/s/ Peter Ntephe

Corporate Secretary



5444 Westheimer Road, Suite 1440,
Houston, Texas 77056


April 22, 2008

To the Holders of Shares of Common Stock:

Notice is hereby given that the Annual Meeting of Shareholders of ERHC Energy Inc. (the “Company”), will be held:


3:00 p.m on Tuesday, April 22, 2008


The Renaissance Houston Hotel
6 Greenway Plaza East
Houston, Texas 77046


(1) To elect Three Directors, each to serve for the term expiring in 2009 or until their successor is elected and qualified;
(2) To consider and vote upon a shareholder proposal, if properly presented; and
(3) To Act upon any other matters that may properly come before the meeting.


Holders of Record of Shares of Common Stock on the close of business on March 17, 2008, are entitled to vote at the meeting.


It is important that your shares be represented and voted at the Annual Meeting of Shareholders. Please MARK, SIGN, DATE, AND RETURN PROMPTLY the enclosed proxy card in the postage-paid envelope furnished for that purpose. You may revoke your voted proxy in the manner described in the accompanying proxy statement at any time prior to its exercise at the meeting, or you may vote in person if you attend the meeting.

By orders of the Board of Directors,

/s/ Peter Ntephe

Peter Ntephe

Corporate Secretary

Dated: March 17, 2008

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Mysterious Dealings, Major Gains

ERHC Energy's largely unwanted reputation for mysterious dealings won another notch yesterday as the share price defied the "perfect economic storm" that hit U.S. markets Friday and rose 13% - as much as Lehman Bros. fell - and a huge trade of 357.000 shares hit the tape 14 minutes after the close and then - what else? - mytseriously disappeared.

I had purchased about 6,000 shares over the past 10 days as the price retreated slightly, picking up some as low as $0.205, and unexpectedly found myself in the black at the end of the day on my 81,000 shares.

It was one of those days when every single other one of the 35-odd very diverse stocks I monitor closely declines.

The only development of the day was talk of an announcement of the company's annual shareholder meeting, which has not been noted by a press release or an SEC filing yet. I'll be in Miami that day, unfortunately, but I doubt that significant news will come out of the meeting. It never has in the past.

Scuttlebutt on one board suggested that the 357,000-share trade was a purchase order that was then cancelled. Final volume on my ADVFN tally was about 566,000 shares, with 273,000 purchased, 272,000 sold and 44,000 indeterminate. The numbers, however, do not add up.

I warned recently that only those who are anxious to get cheated out of substantial gains should sell at this time, but that didn't stop a seller seconds before the final bell from selling 50,000 at $0.25; and 16 seconds after the bell, someone painted the tape to a $0.251 close with a 100-share purchase.

What are we to make of these events? Someone might have dared to enter the huge order - it apparently went in after 3 p.m. - in order to create the illusion of greater demand, and then cancelled it before execution could occur (at an average of $0.2381). But that $85,000 play looks pretty risky to me. If so, the player would have been whoever sold 50,000 at the close and cashed in on their daring move.

I had a similar thought when I reported that the $300 million in funding for the Kosmos drilling that will be done by the Aban Abraham might be in trouble due to the problems of Blackstone Capital Partners, with the possibility then arising that we could drill much earlier than expected. I was startled to see someone suddenly opost a note warning, oh, no, that can't happen, they don't have the equipment they need!

A few posters quickly responded that this suggestion was patently ridiculous because both of our Block 4 partners, Addax and Sinopec, have mountains of equipment all over the Gulf of Guinea region. That seemed like such a manufactured response that I felt that whoever is trying to keep the price down so Addax might mount a $1.6 billion buyout (the budget has increased about as much as our share price) is actively manipulating the board to allow the buyer to soak up hundreds of thousands of cheap shares while they are still available.

For my part, I think those shares are precious now more than ever. Investigations or not, indictments or not, ERHC's day is coming and I plan to be there.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Update On Aban Abraham; Kosmos Drilling Funder 'Staring Into Jaws Of Hell'

A poster on IHub has updated us with a graf from the Aban Abraham Website describing the activities of the ship, and suggesting an earlier drilling date than we have seen before, but the big news is the financial condition of the two venture capitalists that have offered a "provisional commitment" to Kosmos to fund their drilling offshore Ghana in West Africa. Spokesman for both companies have not returned calls about the funding commitment.

06/03/2007 - Aban Offshore Ltd’s subsidiary, Aban Abraham Pte Ltd has entered into a drilling contract with affiliates of Addax Petroleum Corporation of Canada and Sinopec for deployment of the Drillship Aban Abraham offshore West Africa. The contract will be performed in direct continuation of the contract announced earlier with Pioneer / Kosmos and is likely to commence after May 15, 2008.The contract is for 5 firm wells and 5 optional wells. The estimated duration of the contract is 300 days for the firm wells, which could go up to 600 days if the optional wells are declared. The revenue expected from the above contract would be USD 123 million which could increase to USD 246 million if all the optional wells are declared.

However, the same poster tells us the ship has a date with Kosmos Energy for six months - three solid, three conditional - offshore Ghana before our own contract is fulfilled. Of course, Kosmos has to show it has the money to pay for the ship, an issue which may become problematic. The company has been promised a $300 million private equity infusion from Warburg Pincus and Blackstone Capital Partners, both of which are subject to the vagaries of Wall Street - which is producing a lot of vagrants these days.

Kosmos has received provisional commitments of up to $300 million from management, Warburg Pincus, the global private equity firm, and Blackstone Capital Partners, an affiliate of The Blackstone Group, an international private investment bank, to pursue exploration ventures in West Africa.

Warburg has lost $33 million on its $300 million investment in MBIA, the troubled bond insurer, since it purchased the stock in mid-February, and at the time, declined to complete another $300-million in convertibles from MBIA. It still has lots of money, however. A company spokeswoman promised to return our call, but hasn't done so - never a good sign.

On Warburg's Website, Warburg does have a writeup about Kosmos, but there's no mention of the commitment:

Kosmos Energy, based in Dallas, Texas, is a privately-held international oil exploration and production company focused on emerging and frontier basins offshore West Africa. Kosmos is led by a seasoned management and technical team formerly with Triton Energy. This team has a proven track record of discovering and developing significant oil and gas reserves offshore West Africa and in other international basins. Warburg Pincus led the company’s initial equity financing in 2004. Since formation, Kosmos has secured deepwater licenses in Ghana, Benin, Morocco and Nigeria, as well as onshore licenses in Cameroon. Kosmos is currently prospecting in its initial core areas while evaluating additional opportunities.

Meanwhilwe, according to the Wall Street Journal, Blackstone is actually in the red after a fourth-quarter loss:

Private-equity firm Blackstone Group LP swung to a fourth-quarter loss on stock-compensation costs as the company cited "significant challenges" tied to declining equity and fixed-income markets and the credit crunch.

Chairman and Chief Executive Stephen A. Schwarzman offered little light in a gloomy forecast, saying that "difficult market conditions in the U.S. and Europe continue in 2008 and there is little visibility on when these conditions might improve."

And the New York Times reports today:

The private equity firm reported $128 million in net income excluding expenses tied to its initial public offering, an 86 percent decline from a year ago...

The Times also wrote:

Celebrated buyout firms like the Blackstone Group and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company, hailed only a year ago for their deal-making prowess, are seeing their profits collapse as the credit crisis spreads through the financial markets.

Investors fear that some of the companies that these firms bought on credit could, like millions of American homeowners, begin to buckle under their heavy debts now that a recession seems almost certain. The buyout lords themselves suddenly confront gaping multibillion-dollar losses on their investments.

On a day in which the stock market tumbled to its lowest point in two years and rumors flew that a major Wall Street firm might be in trouble, Blackstone said Monday that its profit had plunged. The firm said earnings tumbled 89 percent in the final three months of 2007 and warned that the deep freeze in the credit markets — and, by extension, in the private equity industry — was unlikely to thaw soon.

“They see the handwriting on the wall,” said Martin S. Fridson, a leading expert on junk bonds, said of buyout firms. “They’re staring into the jaws of hell.”

It is a major turn of events for Blackstone and its chief executive, Stephen A. Schwarzman, who took the firm public last year at the height of the buyout binge. On paper, Mr. Schwarzman has personally lost $3.9 billion as the price of Blackstone’s stock sank.

Even so, Mr. Schwarzman is still worth billions, more than rich enough to pledge $100 million to the New York Public Library, as he plans to do Tuesday.

There remains the possibility that Kosmos could undwerwite the drilling itself after discovering a new well offshore Ghana, announced on February 25. It is partnered with Pioneer Natural Resources, George Soros' former pet project and our former partner, and presumably Pioneer could advance the money to Kosmos in excchange for rights, stock or a promissory note.

While we await word from either company on the status of the Kosmos commitment, we note parenthetically that Blackstone, like Warburg, has a longstanding relationship with Kosmos as an equity holder. However, the company Website does not list Kosmos among its "strategic" allies in the energy business. A Blackstone spokesman said he would investigate our qury about the commitment and get back to us in about an hour, but no word has come from him, either. Silence is often one way of breaking bad news.

Meanwhile, Warburg has already established a $300 million stake just 20 days ago in Cambrian Energy, a Canadian explorer:

CALGARY, Alberta, February 21, 2008 – Canbriam Energy, Inc. announced today that it entered into an equity financing arrangement of up to US$300 million from company management, Warburg Pincus, and ARC Financial Corp. to pursue the acquisition, exploration and development of oil and gas interests in certain onshore regions of Canada and the United States.

Canbriam Energy will explore for and develop oil and gas resources in selected hydrocarbon basins in North America. Initially, Canbriam Energy will concentrate on unconventional oil and gas opportunities in Western Alberta and Eastern British Columbia. Over time, the company will draw on the previous experience of its management team to target other unconventional opportunities where it believes significant value can be created through advanced drilling and production technologies.

Little about that situation suggests the venture money is anxious to take a flyer on offshore oil, but you never know. Blackstone stock, for instance, is trading at $14.04, just $0.22 off its 52-week low and way off its $38 52-week high.

What we can surmise fairly freely, however, is that if tight credit conditions continue to prevail, it may be that the two will take a pass on their "provisional" commitment and let the Aban Abraham come straight to papa - oops, I mean ERHC Energy, Addax and Sinopec. Let's just hope the cards fall our way.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Aban Abraham To Set Sail In March? That's What Nigeria's Punch Says

I take it was a hopeful grain of salt, as it's quite contrary to what we've heard from the company and from Addax, but according to Daily Punch, a leading Nigerian newspaper, the Aban Abraham drillship is setting sail this month for the Gulf of Huineau and our blocks in the JDZ.

And the source of this knopwledge? None other than our new Controller, Sylvan Odobolu, whom we all hope was either right or misquoted.

Apparently gambling on the latter, the share price moved up one cent today, giving me an $810 gain - I bought 5,3000 shares in the recent downdraft.

If a March sailing date means an April arrival and a June or July drilling schedule - and for oil selling for $105 a barrel, it's probably worth whatever someone would have to pay to get the ship going - the share price will movbe big time in the near term, which is quite unexpected.

What we have to do next is get Mr. Odobulu on the phone to confirm this news, and to get Addax to put out a release stating it. Then, baby, it's badda badda bing!

ERHC promises bright future for stakeholders
By Clara Nwachukwu
Published: Thursday, 6 Mar 2008
United States-based, ERHC Energy Incorporated has promised a bright future for its investors and other stakeholders, as its investments begin to yield fruits.

The Controller, ERHC, Mr. Sylvan Odobulu, who spoke with our correspondent on Wednesday, said the investment port folion of the company was quite big, adding that its operations were now being carried out in a more transparent manner.

He said the company had been involved in a lot of exploration activities on some of its oil blocks located in the Joint Development Zone, operated by the governments of Nigeria and Sao Tome and Principe.

According to Odobulu, ”We and our technical partners have been carrying out a lot of exploration, but we have not yet reached production.

”We have signed three production sharing contracts for JDZ blocks 2, 3, and 4 with the Joint Development Authority.”

He insisted that the blocks held huge prospects, adding that they would be developed according to plans, given the calibre of ERHC‘s technical and financial partners.

He said, ”For block 2, we have Asian giant, Sinopec, and they are carrying us through, as there are no expenses borne by ERHC until they recover costs and we share the profit.

For block 3, the operator is Anardako Woodland Texas, and for block 4, is Addax. They are all carrying us through all the expenses.”

He added that both Sinopec and Addax have found a drill ship, Abraham, for their respective blocks. He said the Abraham had been on a re-work and would sail to the JDZ this March.

He, however, said the company still had other PSCs, which had not yet been signed for blocks 5, 6 and 9, due to delays in sourcing for competent technical partners.

In spite of the initial protests against the company‘s investments in the JDZ, Odobulu, insisted, the ERHC had enjoyed tremendous public support, demonstrated by the number of visitors to its stand at the just-concluded Nigeria Oil and Gas Conference.

Although the company was participating for the first time, he said, it was one of the sponsors of the conference, and had attracted a lot of interests.