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AAOG exec quits for Tunisia as cash squeeze bites

Kariya Energy plans to pursue EOR on marginal or mature fields, and small-scale LNG, in West Africa, the company's director has said.
Société Nationale des Pétroles du Congo (SNPC)

The CEO of Anglo African Oil & Gas (AAOG) has resigned in order to spend more time with Anglo Tunisian Oil & Gas (ATOG).

James Berwick left AAOG with immediate effect. This follows the departure of David Sefton who had held roles at both companies. Berwick is a director, and shareholder, of ATOG and the amount of work was unsustainable, AAOG said in a statement.

James Cane will take over the role of CEO at AAOG on an interim basis, while the company seeks a permanent replacement. Sefton resigned from his role as executive chairman on September 13.

The changes come as AAOG is facing difficulties at its Tilapia field, in Congo Brazzaville. State-owned Société Nationale des Pétroles du Congo (SNPC) is said to owe AAOG more than $5.3 million but has not made any payments on this debt since September 19. SNPC paid $600,000 to AAOG in September, bringing the total paid this year to $3.96mn.

AAOG said it had formally requested a meeting with Congolese Minister of Hydrocarbons Jean-Marc Thystère-Tchicaya in January to discuss the problem, it said in a statement on December 12. The company said it would talk about the work programme and whether it should be modified, not least because it cannot afford to drill the TLP-103C-ST well.

Furthermore, the rig that was to be used on this well will not be available until June 2020, it said, at the earliest. Talks are under way with two alternative rigs for an earlier move. In addition, mediation between AAOG and its rig provider Société de Maintenance Pétrolière (SMP) has failed and it is now working on legal redress in the French courts. A hearing is due in February.

Following the announcement of the cash problems and rig delays, AAOG’s share price has fallen around 75%.

AAOG had considered acquiring assets in Tunisia that would have been accomplished via a reverse takeover. The company said it had opted not to go ahead with this following opposition from “significant shareholders”. When AAOG balked, ATOG leapt in and acquired the licences.

ATOG was incorporated in March of this year. This was financed by a loan from the European High Growth Opportunities Securitization Fund (EHGOS), which has a 50% stake in the company, while the remaining 50% is held by Berwick and Sefton. ATOG has paid £100,000 to creditors of AAOG for work carried out on the failed acquisition and has agreed to pay another £150,000.

According to a statement earlier this year, AAOG spent £300,000 on the acquisition work. There are discussions about additional payments from ATOG to AAOG.

Medco Sahara changed its name in November to ATOG Sahara, where Berwick is named as a director. Indonesia’s Medco Energi acquired Storm Ventures International in 2014, a subsidiary of Chinook Energy, for $127.7mn. Medco said this gave it 12.3mn barrels of oil equivalent and 2,800 boepd of production.

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