March 12 London-listed Tullow Oil has
declared force majeure on its offshore exploration block in
Guinea following a U.S. regulatory investigation of its project
partner Hyperdynamics Corp.
Guinea, one of Africa's poorest nations despite abundant
natural resources, has urged the G8 countries to help it trace
crooked deals in a bid to crack down on corruption.
The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and
Exchange Commission are investigating Hyperdynamics' activities
in obtaining and retaining concession rights in Guinea.
In parallel, Guinea previously indicated that Hyperdynamics'
rights to nearly a third of the country's offshore oil blocks
would form part of a review into opaque deals that also included
BSG Resources' rights to develop half of the giant Simandou iron
"Tullow has decided that it cannot proceed with activities
on the licence until these issues are resolved. Tullow hopes for
a speedy resolution to these issues and looks forward to
continue operation with its partners in Guinea," a Tullow Oil
Hyperdynamics and Tullow are exploring an 18,750 square
kilometer (7,239 square mile) area off the African coast along
with Korea National Oil Corp's Dana Petroleum.
Tullow Oil said last month that it was planning to start
drilling off Guinea together with its partners in the second
quarter of 2014.
Tullow Oil took over operations at the concession in April
2013 after acquiring a 40 percent stake in the project from
Hyperdynamics' subsidiary SCS Corp.
Hyperdynamics said in a statement on Wednesday that it was
unable to predict the impact and timing of Tullow's force
Hyperdynamics Chief Executive Ray Leonard said in October
that the investigations would not affect the company's ability
to explore the massive oil concession off the coast of Guinea.
Shares in Tullow Oil traded down 1.24 percent at 1127 GMT
and Hyperdynamics closed at $5.26 on the New York Stock Exchange