Clontarf (AIM: CLON) today announces financial results for the six months ended 30 June 2018.
The principal focus in the period ended 30 June 2018 was ongoing discussions with the Ghanaian authorities on Tano 2A Block, and initial discussions on developing one of the world's leading lithium deposits.
Ghanaian Tano 2A Petroleum Agreement
All outstanding issues have now been resolved with GNPC on our Tano 2A Block. The signed Petroleum Agreement is now being sent to the Cabinet. All legal proceedings have been dropped and all issues resolved to our satisfaction.
After a period of slow progress, Ghana's current NPP Government has galvanised the licensing effort. The administration is pro-development, and actively reviewing historic Petroleum Agreements, with stated focus on early exploration, discoveries and output. During 2018 the Ghanaian Ministry of Energy and the Ghanaian National Petroleum Commission considered the current re-application by Pan Andean Resources Ltd (30% Petrel, 60% Clontarf, 10% local interests) over the original Tano 2A licence block acreage in the prospective Tano Basin, West Africa.
There is a mutual desire to complete the ratification process. Our strong preference is to honour as far as possible the terms of the existing signed Petroleum Agreement, adjusting the revised coordinates and any other fine-tuning necessary.
Lithium in Bolivia
Lithium from salt pan deposits is in high demand. The Clontarf Energy plc group has long been interested in Lithium evaporates for high performance batteries. From 2008 through 2010 we operated a study joint venture on the world's largest salt-lake deposit in Bolivia. The technical results were encouraging but progress was frustrated by political developments. Following clarification of the applicable legal regime and fiscal terms, and the establishment of a National Lithium Company (YLB) under the Bolivian Ministry of Energy in 2017, we have re-established our interest, and are in initial discussions on a possible joint venture to study the second largest salt-lake lithium deposit worldwide.
Equatorial Guinea 2017 Bid Round
Clontarf Energy was awarded Block 18 (EG-18) in the Equatorial Guinea June 2017 Bid Round. The successful bidders then entered into discussions to finalise fiscal terms, work programme and bonus details.
Clontarf has long been interested in Cretaceous sands plays in the Atlantic Margin. Though its current output is small, Equatorial Guinea's largely unexplored deep-water potential is among some of the most intriguing in West Africa. EG-18 is part of the Northern Rio Muni Basin, which Clontarf had previously studied. Our initial interest is principally in Cretaceous sands plays, particularly a distal fan and turbidite channels visible on historic seismic. This has proven a prolific play elsewhere along the Atlantic Margin and offers potential in Equatorial Guinea.
Block 18 covers approximately 5,056 km2 of undrilled deep water acreage with several play types. Clontarf Energy's focus was on working on large structural and / or stratigraphic trap targets - given the deep water depth and uncertainties.
The main amplitude anomaly trend is extensive, at circa 220 km2. We believe that approaches that have worked in nearby offshore provinces could also be fruitful in Equatorial Guinea: in particular, 'mid-Cretaceous intervals' aged between 94 million years and 72 million years appear to feature meandering sand deposits across Block 18. Initial seismic interpretation suggested that a prime play could be confined turbidite channels and distal fans sealed by up-dip pinch-outs. This echoes play types we have studied elsewhere on the 'Atlantic Transform Margin' in the Cretaceous.
However, water depth is challenging at circa 1.8km - though dozens of wells have been drilled at greater depths. Drilling costs have fallen by about 70% since 2014 - while operational safety has improved.
However, detailed analysis of the available 3D seismic data by our technical team during 2018 raised new issues: we struggled with an apparent lack of trap formation and clear structures of adequate size in order to justify deep-water exploration. There are certainly drill targets, but they may be marginal given the water and rock depth - even at current oil prices. Overall, seismic amplitudes gave us limited encouragement, which made us reluctant to commit to major up-front expenditure. Nonetheless, during negotiations, the authorities pressed us to enter into a binding contract to buy historic 3D seismic, at higher than current acquisition costs, including a substantial up-front payment.
While Block-18 remains potentially prospective, we could not justify this substantial up-front expenditure for limited licence access on terms which were by then in excess of market rates for this standard and vintage of data.
Accordingly, we made a counter-proposal which has not been accepted by the authorities.
The oil price has recovered to over $75 and world stock levels have returned to normal. The OPEC + Russia output cuts have worked. Yet financial markets seem sanguine about a production collapse in Venezuela, tightening sanctions on Iran and Russia, and ongoing conflict in Iraq. World oil shares are still being valued on an implicit oil price of $27. The farm-out market is subdued and exploration shares depressed. A trillion dollars has been cut from necessary investment plans. This is not sustainable. There will be a re-rating of oil stocks.
Clontarf plans to ride this wave.
In September 2018 the company raised £500,000 by issuing 135,135,135 new ordinary shares at a price of 0.37p per share. The proceeds will fund any costs associated with the ongoing negotiations in Ghana and provide additional working capital.