WTI (June) $71.11 +$1.07, Brent (July) $75.23 +$1.06, Diff -$4.12 -1c.

USNG (June) $2.37 +11c,  UKNG (June) 74.0p -1.2p, TTF (June) €31.97 -€0.03.

Oil price

A decent rise for oil yesterday but at the moment all the sector nerves are about the meeting in the White House later between Sleepy Joe and House Leaders. Until this bugbear is off the worry list little else will be of import.

And that goes for the IEA report out today in which they start to come around to the other agencies by suggesting that demand numbers are due an upgrade. Demand continues to ‘surpass’ forecasts and apparently the ‘current state of market pessimism is in stark contrast to reality’.

No great change in US retail gasoline prices ahead of the  driving season and the EU are starting to talk about further sanctions as Russian production continues to do as it pleases.

Arrow Exploration

Arrow has provided an update on the drilling of Carrizales Norte 1 (CN-1), an exploration well on the Tapir Block in the Llanos Basin of Colombia.

CN-1 Update

The CN-1 well was spud on May 1, 2023 and reached total depth on May 11, 2023. The well was drilled to a total measured depth of 9,190 feet (8,511 feet true vertical depth) and encountered approximately 148 feet of net oil pay measured depth (128 feet TVD).

The hydrocarbon bearing intervals are as follows:

·    26 feet of net pay in Carbonera C7 sands. High quality reservoir characteristics are similar to what was encountered in the highly productive Rio Cravo Este (RCE) series of wells.

·    64 feet of net oil pay within the Gacheta formation. Pay sands exhibit excellent reservoir characteristics with oil shows and strong hydrocarbon chromatograph response.

·    58 feet net oil pay within the Ubaque formation. The main pay zone is a very clean, thick and continuous sandstone with excellent reservoir characteristics.

Interval thicknesses are not necessarily indicative of long-term performance or ultimate recovery.

A testing and completion program is under review. Testing will likely begin with the deeper Ubaque, followed by the Gacheta and then the highly porous and permeable C7 reservoirs. Tests will be conducted over the following weeks, with production forecast to commence in early June 2023. The Carrizales Norte-2 (CN-2) well will be drilled immediately upon completion of CN-1.

Marshall Abbott, CEO of Arrow commented:

“The CN-1 discovery is an extremely important and material event for Arrow and is further evidence of the potential of the Tapir block. All primary targets in the well have clear indications of oil pay and have the potential to greatly increase the Company’s reserves and production.  Currently there are no reserves booked at the Carrizales Norte field. Apart from the exceptional technical results, the CN-1 well was drilled on time and under budget. Arrow plans to test several zones over the following weeks and then make a decision on which zone to bring on production.

Our expectation is that the CN wells will behave in a similar manner to the RCE wells, quick to payout with triple digit IRRs providing positive cashflow for the Company during a high commodity price environment. This is a very exciting time for Arrow, and we look forward to providing further updates on our progress.”

This was another exceptional well result from Arrow where even I continue to be astounded by the success of the company in the Tapir Block in Colombia. With three high quality sands producing 148′ of net pay this well must surely have significantly beaten pre-drill estimates and will add to P2 reserves and of course when it comes on production cruise past existing rates.

But this is already in the statement and we have become used to wells that are quick and cheap to drill and payout in next to no time adding to production and reserves. I have no doubt whatsoever that this is an outstanding company building a portfolio of some significant value in an area that has still to be discovered. 

I am not going to change my target price as a result of this well but I surely will do after CN-2 or the end of the campaign and I notice that other analysts are slowly catching up with my number I activated last year. The 50p target price would still involve the shares more than doubling but the shares are so cheap that upping the TP is only a matter of time. 

Zephyr Energy

Zephyr has provided initial first quarter 2023 results related to hydrocarbon production and cashflows from its non-operated asset portfolio in the Williston Basin, North Dakota, U.S, as well as an update on the State 36-2 LNW-CC well

 Q1 Williston Basin Highlights

·    Quarterly revenues totaled US$6.3 million, net to Zephyr, compared to fourth quarter 2022  revenues of US$7.4 million. Q1 revenues reflect the standard decline expected from the portfolio and the lower commodity price environment during the quarter.

·    Q1 operating income was US$5.7 million (after taxes, lease operating expenses, realised hedging impacts, and gathering and marketing fees), compared to Q4 operating income of US$6.3 million.

·    Q1 sales volumes averaged 1,093 barrels of oil equivalent per day compared to Q4 sales volumes average of 1,192 boepd. Q1 sales volumes were in line with management expectations.

·    The Company hedged 36,000 barrels of oil in Q1 at a weighted-average price of US$90.05 per barrel of oil.

·    At 31 March 2023, 223 wells in the portfolio were available for production, including one well which came online during Q1.

o Net working interests across the Williston Basin portfolio now average 6.4% per well, equivalent to 15.1 gross wells in total, all of which utilised horizontal drilling and modern, hydraulically stimulated completions.

·    The recently acquired Slawson Exploration operated wellbore interests (as announced to the market on 21 December 2022) are now fully drilled and completed.  Production from these working interests had been forecast to be online by July 2023, and are now forecast to be online by October 2023 due to minor delays related to the completion of surface facilities on the well pad.  The Company will provide an update in relation to FY 2023 production guidance when those wells are brought online.

Paradox Basin – State 36-2 LNW-CC well update

Following the well control incident announced on April 11, 2023, the Company reports that the State 36-2 LNW-CC well remains stable and under control while additional well repair work is ongoing.  Zephyr plans to commence a production test of the well as soon as all necessary well work has been completed.  This work includes a cement squeeze and the perforation of the well in the Cane Creek reservoir.  Given the high pressures and significant hydrocarbon volumes witnessed to date, the continued safety of all personnel on site and the mitigation of any environmental impact are the top priorities of the Company. 

The Zephyr team is working methodically and carefully to ensure both goals are met, at which point the Company will announce and commence the production test.

Colin Harrington, Chief Executive of Zephyr, said:

 “Over the last two years, Zephyr has built a successful and profitable non-operated asset base comprised of a diverse mix of working-interests in 223 low-risk, high-margin producing wells.   This production is well-hedged at above current market prices, and delivers rapid payback and solid cash flows to fund future growth within both our operated and non-operated portfolios. 

“Near term growth includes our investment in the newly drilled and completed Slawson-operated wells, wells which are expected to significantly boost non-operated production rates when brought online this Autumn.

“On our operated Paradox project, our near-term priority is to deliver a safe and successful production test of the State 36-2 LNW-CC well, and we look forward to updating Shareholders when we commence that test.”

The strategy to ensure cashflow from its portfolio of low risk wells, some hedged at above current prices has succeeded and mirrored commodity prices, box ticked. The slight delay in getting the Slawson volumes online is an annoyance, but every operator in North America is dealing with labour and equipment shortages at the moment.  

The good news is that the wells are fully drilled and fully completed – no future drilling or completion risk, and as soon as the surface facilities are completed Zephyr will be adding significant production to that portfolio – probably 700 boe/d to start, better late than never. 

I think that the management are being entirely sensible with regard to the Paradox, in line with their exemplary treatment all the way along. As I see it they took a massive kick of hydrocarbons and are doing everything in their power to make sure when it is time to test, that there won’t be any further well control issues. 

There are no prizes for making a valiant guess at when the work will be finished and testing will begin, there’s no quicker way to lose the trust of the market and shareholders have built up that in spades since the launch.

Nope, I’ve had the opportunity of some time with CEO Colin Harrington this afternoon and I can confirm that the work is definitely proceeding ‘in the right direction’ and that they are confident of testing in the near term. The exact date is not an exact science, as they say but the well will decide that and the preparatory work should be completed in time to test. 

PetroTal Corp

PetroTal has announce the commencement of its previously announced share buyback plan, following approval by the Toronto Stock Exchange of its normal course issuer bid.

PetroTal further announces today that the Q1 2023 dividend of US$0.015/share will be paid on June 15, 2023.

Q1 2023 Dividend Timetable

PetroTal is pleased to confirm that its cash dividend of US$0.015 per common share in respect of Q1 2023 operations will paid according to the following timetable:

–      Ex-dividend date: May 30, 2023

–      Record date: May 31, 2023

–      Payment date: June 15, 2023

The dividend is an eligible dividend for the purposes of the Income Tax Act (Canada).  Shareholders outside of Canada should contact their respective brokers or register agents for the appropriate tax election forms regarding this dividend.

Commencement of the Share Buyback Plan

PetroTal is pleased to commence a share buyback plan of approximately US$3 million per quarter (up to a maximum of US$12 million in the current program), following approval by the TSX of the Company’s NCIB program (“Program”).  The Company has entered into a buyback agreement with Stifel Nicolaus Europe Limited (“Stifel”), who will conduct the Program on PetroTal’s behalf.

PetroTal expects that the NCIB will provide an additional tool to enhance total long-term shareholder returns.  The Company believes that, at times, the prevailing share price does not reflect the underlying value of the common shares and the repurchase of its common shares for cancellation represents an attractive opportunity to improve PetroTal’s per share metrics and thereby increase the value of the common shares.

The NCIB allows PetroTal to purchase up to 44,230,205 common shares, representing approximately 5% of its issued and outstanding common shares as at May 12, 2023, over a 12-month period commencing on May 18, 2023 and ending no later than May 17, 2024.  Under the NCIB, purchases of common shares may be made through the facilities of the TSX, alternative trading systems in Canada (if eligible), and AIM, a market operated by the London Stock Exchange in accordance with applicable regulatory requirements.  Purchases under the NCIB will be made through open market transactions at market price, as well as by other means as may be permitted under applicable securities laws.  The actual number of common shares that may be purchased under the NCIB and the timing of any such purchases will be determined by the PetroTal’s management.  All common shares purchased under the NCIB will be cancelled.

Under the TSX rules, the total number of common shares PetroTal is permitted to purchase on the TSX is subject to a daily purchase limit of 190,542 common shares (representing 25% of the average daily trading volume of 762,168 common shares on the TSX, calculated from the initial date of listing on the TSX, being February 16, 2023 to the calendar month ended April 30, 2023); provided that PetroTal may make one block purchase per calendar week that exceeds such limits.

This capital repayment to shareholders via dividends and buy-backs is the beginning of the making of PetroTal as one of the leading total return companies in the sector. With the quarterly dividend on its own giving the company a very decent starting yield of around 10%, plus the $3m quarterly buy-back up to another $12m over the year being up to 5% of the issued capital giving another c.3% .

And there’s more, whisper it very carefully but should the Bretana field continue to deliver at 20/- b/d there is no reason why as the year goes on, that dividend could be higher, after all should the cash level exceed pre-agreed levels then the current level may look somewhat how you say, parsimonious…

My 150p target price has looked a bit toppy but that has never worried me before and I’m not going to start panicking now, I’ve rarely more comfortable about a target, PTAL is on the launch pad and somebody just lit the fuse. 

Afentra

Afentra has announced its annual results for the year ended 31 December 2022.

2022 SUMMARY

Strategic

•       SPAs signed to acquire non-operated interests from Sonangol and INA in the producing Block 3/05 (24%), adjacent development Block 3/05A (4%) and exploration Block 23 (40%).

•       Reverse takeover (‘RTO’) announced under Rule 14 of the AIM Rules to acquire Block 3/05.

•       Publication of Admission Document followed by shareholder approval on 30 August 2022.

•       Stakeholder engagement across governmental, regulatory authorities and industry counterparties in Angola continues to demonstrate the country as an attractive operating and investment jurisdiction.

•       Strengthened organisation with recruitment of high calibre financial, technical and sustainability talent.

•       Continued to screen and evaluate compelling M&A opportunities in line with the Company strategy.

•       Investor outreach and marketing, appealing to new institutional and high net worth investors.

•       Continued to strengthen Afentra’s profile within industry as a credible counterparty of choice.

Operations

•       Progressed Angolan transactions to acquire interests in Blocks 3/05, 3/05A and Block 23.

•       Independent ESG due diligence conducted as an integral part of the Block 3/05 and 3/05A assessment and to identify potential options to reduce emissions.

•       Invited to observe all Block 3/05 and Block 3/05A partner meetings and engage with operating team while awaiting transaction completion.

•       Support the Operator of the Odewayne block in Somaliland to progress the technical understanding of the block and outlook on block prospectivity, as well as contributing to the drought relief programme.

Financial Highlights

•       Entered into financing and offtake agreements with Trafigura to finance Sonangol and INA Acquisitions:

 Reserve Based Lending (‘RBL’) facility: up to $75 million with 5-year tenure (8% margin over 3-month secured overnight financing rate (‘SOFR’));

 Revolving working capital facility: up to $30 million to finance asset funding requirements between crude offtakes (4.75% over 1-month SOFR);

 Offtake agreement for Afentra’s crude oil entitlement lifted from the Acquisitions.1

•       Cash resources net to the Group at 31 December 2022 of $30.6 million (2021: $37.7 million), including restricted funds of $10.2 million.

•       Adjusted EBITDAX:2 loss for the Group of $5.2 million (2021: $2.0 million loss).

•       The Group remains fully carried for Odewayne operations for Third and the Fourth Period.

Post year-end Summary3

•       Completion of the INA acquisition announced 10 May 2023, marking Afentra’s formal entry into Angola.

 Net completion payment of $17.0m with Afentra inheriting crude oil stock of 207,868 bbls4 that can be valued at $16.6 million (based on $80/bbl) on a pre-tax basis.

 Mauritius Commercial Bank (‘MCB’) has entered both the RBL and working capital facilities as the lender to the Company. Trafigura retains an interest in the RBL facility and will continue as offtake provider.

•       The Sonangol acquisition long-stop date was extended to 30 June 2023 in order to facilitate completion of the transaction.

•       ANPG and the Block 3/05 JV partners agreed the improved terms for the licence extension (1 July 2025 to 31 December 2040). ANPG will now progress the formal approval process.

•       Afentra completed an updated Competent Persons Report (‘CPR’) on Block 3/05 effective 1 January 2023, estimating 1P/2P/3P reserves of 72/108/145 mmbbls (gross) and 2C resources of 43 mmbbls.

Commenting on the update, CEO Paul McDade said:

“2022 has been a year in which Afentra has truly established itself as a respected oil and gas independent. Our focus on value accretive M&A, accessing proven resources and delivering robust cash flows has been evidenced by our two inaugural acquisitions. These highly cash generative transactions provide an entry into Angola, a target country for the Company and provide a platform from which we plan to access further opportunities.

Despite a reduced financing market in the oil and gas space, Afentra has been successful in securing financing packages for both INA and Sonangol acquisitions and maintains a strong cash position which will support potential future transactions.

With the completion of the INA transaction in May, we now look ahead to completing the Sonangol transaction, and working with the partnership to deliver the significant potential of these assets. Beyond this, we continue our ongoing business development efforts to seek further acquisitions in line with Afentra strategy and purpose.”

These are historic results that are of little significance, more important are all the points made by CEO Paul McDade above and by me in the detailed blog on the deal last week. 

Tower Resources

Tower has announce that the Company has raised gross proceeds of £2,300,000 through a conditional placing and subscription of approximately 4,600,000,000 new ordinary shares of 0.001 pence each at a price of 0.05  pence per Placing Share.

As part of the Placing, Jeremy Asher, Chairman and CEO, has entered into a subscription agreement to subscribe for  100,000,000 new Placing Shares in the Placing for £50,000 as further detailed below.

Cameroon Update

The Company is pleased to advise that it has this week received a letter from the Prime Minister of Cameroon advising the Company that he has given instructions to the Minister of Mines, Industry and Technological Development (“MINMIDT”) requiring him to take necessary measures in order to accelerate the license extension process in response to the Company’s request.

The Company and one of the rig contractors with whom it is in discussions have commissioned a leg penetration analysis and a leg extraction assessment in respect of the specific rig under discussion, based on the existing geotechnical survey, and this work should be completed shortly.

As previously disclosed, the Company is waiting for feedback from BGFI Bank Group on the outcome of its internal discussions, and is continuing discussions with various possible asset-level partners.

The Placing

While the financing discussions in respect of the NJOM-3 well are concluded, the Company has raised approximately £2.3 million for the preparation of the drilling of the NJOM-3 well, including payments on account of services associated with the well, and for working capital purposes via the Placing and subscription. A portion of the funds raised will also be used to advance the Company’s other 2023 work programs in Namibia and South Africa, including the ongoing basin modelling work currently underway on the Company’s Namibian license PEL 96.

Appointment of Joint Broker

In connection with the Placing, the Company has appointed Axis Capital Markets Limited (“Axis”) as a joint broker to the Company.

Issue of Broker Warrants

The Company has also issued broker warrants in favour of Novum Securities Limited and Axis granting them the right to acquire 112,500,000 ordinary shares of 0.001 pence each, in aggregate, for a period of three years at an exercise price of 0.1p per share.

Standstill Agreement with EECP

With respect to the Share Placement Deed of 13 January 2023 between TRP and Energy Exploration Capital Partners LLC  (EECP), announced on 16 January 2023, the Company has also agreed a standstill on further Settlement Notices to convert the Subscription Amount Outstanding into shares, for a period following the Placing of:

·      90 days for $300,000 of the Subscription Amount Outstanding

·      60 days for $600,000 of the Subscription Amount Outstanding

·      30 days for the full Subscription Amount Outstanding

Provided that the standstill will no longer apply if (a) there is an event of default under the Share Placement Deed. or (b) if the market price of Tower’s shares (as measured by VWAP for a full trading day) is at or above 0.21p per share.

Annual issue of Stock Options under Long Term Incentive Plan

The Company has also made an annual grant of share options under the Company’s Long Term Incentive Plan (“LTIP”).

The share options (the “Options”) over a total of 296 million new ordinary shares of 0.001 pence each (“Shares”) in the capital of the Company were awarded on 15 May 2023 at an exercise price of 0.10 pence per ordinary share, being a premium of 100% over the Placing price. The Options will vest in three equal tranches being 12, 24 and 36 months respectively after issue and will expire, if not previously exercised, on the fifth anniversary of their issue, and will be governed by the terms of the Company’s existing share option scheme (the “Scheme”). The award of options under the Long Term Incentive plan is an annual event, which normally takes place in the first quarter of each year, but was delayed in 2023 due to a closed period.

Details of the grant to directors, PDMRs and consultants are set out below:

Director/PDMR

Existing number of options

Number of new options granted

Total number of options held following issue

Jeremy Asher

280,000,000

200,000,000

480,000,000

Honore Dairou

79,000,000

68,000,000

147,000,000

Consultants

27,500,000

22,000,000

49,500,000

Others

5,500,000

6,000,000

11,500,000

TOTAL

392,000,000

296,000,000

688,000,000

‡ Held by Pegasus Petroleum Ltd, which is owned and controlled by Jeremy Asher

Jeremy Asher, Chairman and CEO, commented:

“This placing moves us a step further towards our work programme commitments in both Cameroon and Namibia, and we are glad that our progress continues to be supported by new and existing shareholders. We welcome Axis, who also participated substantially in our last placing, as our joint broker going forward. We are also very grateful for the continuing support of the government of the Republic of Cameroon, and we are looking forward to the drilling of the NJOM-3 well.”

I don’t think that there is any need to add anything to this, another placing for Tower but at least it is still ‘live’ and equity investors have believed enough to have backed Jeremy Asher-again…

Prospex Energy

Prospex has announced that construction of the gas plant at the Podere Maiar-1 wellsite of the Selva field in the Po Valley, Italy has been completed.  The connection to the gas grid operated by SNAM is also complete allowing the delivery of gas to the market as soon as final operational and safety inspections are complete, which the operator, Po Valley Energy anticipates by the end of May.

Po Valley Operations Pty Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Po Valley Energy Limited is the Operator of the Selva Malvezzi production concession with 63% ownership interest and Prospex has the remaining 37% working interest.

Highlights

·    Podere Maiar-1  gas plant development is complete and ready for commissioning

·    SNAM connections are complete, enabling delivery of PM-1 gas to the SNAM gas grid in Italy

·    Commercial arrangements complete, allowing PM-1 gas to be delivered under the gas supply agreement announced on 14 February 2023

·    With the SNAM connection and transmission arrangements finalised, Po Valley Operations has initiated the process of recovering €757,000 performance bond funds (100% basis – €280,090 net to Prospex), previously deposited with SNAM

·    PM-1 gas plant construction and development achieved with only minor cost increases.  This result is particularly noteworthy given the current inflationary environment and supply chain issues

·    First gas supply from PM-1 is contingent upon final operation and safety inspection.  PVO anticipates this prior to the end of the month

The completion of SNAM connections and commercial arrangements paves the way for the delivery of PM-1 gas to the SNAM grid in Italy.  With these connections and arrangements in place, PM-1 gas can now be delivered under the gas supply agreement, announced on 14 February 2023.

Additionally, the successful completion of the SNAM connection and transmission arrangements has resulted in PVO initiating the process for the recovery of the performance bond funds deposited with SNAM.  The amount involved in this recovery process is €757,000 (100% basis), with €280,090 net to Prospex.

Construction and grid connection has been largely completed on schedule and budget, with only a 3% cost difference to budgeted expenditure.  This amounts to ~€132,000 (100% basis), €48,840 net to Prospex.  Given the global supply chain concerns the joint venture is delighted with this outcome.

Initial production of PM-1 gas is contingent on the signoff of the final operation and safety inspection.  PVO anticipates that this will occur before the end of May 2023.

Mark Routh, Prospex’s CEO, commented:

“I congratulate the team at Po Valley for delivering a safe and very high-quality gas plant development.  This has been achieved by PVO and the main contractor, TESI working with the SNAM construction engineers to install the new gas processing plant and the construction and connection to the SNAM operated national grid network.  This has in turn triggered the recovery of the performance bond deposited with SNAM worth €280,090 to Prospex.

“I was fortunate to visit the well site at the same time as the PVE board in late April and saw first-hand the high standards of installed equipment and importantly the robust safety culture of the TESI and PVO teams.  The development has been delivered on schedule and within our budgeted contingency, which is a significant achievement with the ongoing supply chain challenges facing the industry generally.  I look forward to updating shareholders on the commissioning and delivery of first gas to the SNAM grid, which the operator anticipates by the end of May.”

This is an excellent piece of news for Prospex and in any other time be a cause for celebration with regard to imminent first gas. The shares have been a dreadful performer in a very short period of time, since the announcement of the BP sales agreement the shares have more than halved, I feel that I need to meet the company before too long, after all it was a very promising start to the year.

And finally…

The England cricket squad has been named ahead of the upcoming Ireland game and the Ashes in the summer. As suspected the selectors have shot Ben Foakes in favour of Jonny Bairstow but the summer will be a long one. Jofra Archer is ruled out for the summer with injury problems.

Last night the Foxes stayed in the relegation zone after a 0-3 loss to Liverpool who are making quite some effort to get back into the Champions League places. Tonight in the play-offs the Hatters host the Black Cats who have a 2-1 lead from the first leg.

And in Milan AC visit Inter who have a 0-2 lead from the first leg, some difficult game eh?