Elf seeks $ 1.0 bn to develop Nigerian Amenam field
Elf Aquitaine said it would seek $ 1.0 bn to develop Nigeria's Amenam offshore field under a groundbreaking
stand-alone financing scheme.
Elf's communications general manager, Emmanuel Chiejina, said that under the plan agreed with majority shareholder, Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. (NNPC), the development plan would be initially funded from outside.
"NNPC agreed so discussions with banks in New York have begun," Chiejina said.
The financing scheme for developing Amenam's reserves -- estimated at 500 mm barrels -- is seen as a bypass to the funding crisis that dogged Nigeria's oil joint ventures under the rule of late dictator Gen. Sani Abacha.
"Eventually some elements of the joint venture will apply, once the investment costs have been recovered," Chiejina said. "We have drilled 4 appraisal wells and hope to start development early next year."
The Amenam structure, most of which lies in Elf's block OML 99 and the remainder in Mobil's OML 70, is seen producing
at about90,000 bpd over a 15-year lifespan.
"Details are still sketchy," Chiejina said of exact terms of the agreement with Mobil, which took years of wrangling to reach over developing the prospect.
Elf in May said it would begin work on Amenam as early as this year -- if it received the necessary funding from the government, which owns a majority share in the joint venture through NNPC.
But all the oil firms working in Nigeria had to plan cautiously after previous years when even Abacha's budget promises of cash call payments were not met and against the backdrop of low oil prices.
Things changed in June after Abacha's sudden death and replacement by Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar, who immediately paid
cash commitments up to date and pledged support to the oil industry, which provides about 90 % of export
Elf currently produces about 120,000 bpd in Nigeria from an estimated output capacity of 160,000 bpd. Like other oil firms in Nigeria, Elf has had to trim output in line with OPEC cuts aimedat supporting prices.
The company's goal is to increase production capacity to 200,000 bpd in the year 2000.