CAPE TOWN Oct 30 U.S.-based Murphy Oil Corp
is optimistic it could finalise an offshore production
sharing contract (PSC) with Equatorial Guinea by early 2013, a
senior official said on Tuesday.
Murphy Oil, the operator with a 40 percent stake, was one of
four companies to sign an initial agreement with the Ministry of
Mines, Industry and Energy in June for blocks J-14, J-15, K-14
and K-15 offshore of Rio Muni in the west African country.
Vanco Oil and Gas, Dana Petroleum and the national oil
company GEPetrol were the other signatories.
"We signed that back in June and we've been negotiating PSC
terms since then. We are optimistic that we will get somewhere
with that, possibly by the end of this year, but more likely
early next year," said Derek Stewart, senior vice president for
exploration and new ventures. He was speaking to Reuters on the
sidelines of an African oil conference.
He said Murphy Oil, which already produces African oil from
its offshore Azurite field in the Republic of Congo, was waiting
for resolution to a maritime border dispute between Cameroon and
Equatorial Guinea over its Ntem field.
Operations within the Ntem concession area are currently
suspended under the force majeure provisions of the licence due
to an overlapping maritime border claim between Equatorial
Guinea and its northern neighbour.
"We haven't made a big investment yet, but that is why we
are cautious. If we go out there and make an exploration
discovery and you find part of that structure extends into
disputed acreage, does that mean the development will be held
up?," said Stewart.
In November last year, Sterling Energy signed a
farmout agreement with Murphy, in which the U.S.-based company
was assigned a 50 percent working interest in and operatorship
of the deep-water Ntem field. Sterling retained a 50 percent
non-operated working interest.
Speaking to delegates, Sterling Energy's exploration
director, Philip Frank, said they were hopeful drilling would
commence in the disputed block late 2013 or early 2014.