ONGC eyes stake in $4 billion Senegal oil field in distress sale after price crash
ONGC Videsh Ltd has entered into a definitive agreement to buy cash-strapped Australian company FAR’s stake in the $4.2-billion Rufisque-Sangomar offshore oil project of Senegal
NEW DELHI: ONGC Videsh Ltd has entered into a definitive agreement to buy cash-strapped Australian company FAR’s stake in the $4.2-billion Rufisque-Sangomar offshore oil project of Senegal, marking its bid to buy into an asset in a distress sale prompted by the oil price crash.
But ONGC Videsh succeeds in breaking the four-year-long hiatus in acquisitions will depend on Woodside Energy, an Australian pioneer in LNG (liquefied natural gas) and the operator of the Sangomar project, waiving its first right of refusal in the next 30 days. Woodside has 68% in the project.
On Wednesday, ONGC Videsh said the definitive agreement is for buying FAR Senegal SSD SA’s 13.6% stake in the “exploitation area” (Sangomar project) and 15% in the “remaining contract area” (exploration area) of what is officially identified as Rufisque, Sangomar Offshore and Sangomar Deep Offshore block. FAR is selling out to get out of a financial corner after defaulting on cash call for the project as its debt financing fell through in the wake of the oil price crash.
Capricorn Senegal Ltd, a subsidiary of Scottish explorer Cairn Energy, and Senegal’s national oil company Petrosen are the other partners in the block, besides FAR and Woodside.
Though ONGC Videsh did not give financial details, sources in the know said the buyout will cost about $111 million, including reimbursing FAR’s share of development cost since January. FAR is also likely to get over $50 million in three years after oil production starts. Total investment involved, including the development cost until the First Oil, is expected to be around $600 million.
The deal size, sources said, indicates more than 60% discount to Russian major LukOil’s offer for acquiring Cairn Energy’s 36.4% stake for $400 million in August, which Woodside pre-empted by matching the offer.
Analysts reckon Sangomar could hold more than 5 billion barrels of oil, with the initial development set to recover about 230 million barrels.