Rockhopper Exploration plc (AIM: RKH), the oil and gas exploration and production company with key interests in the North Falkland Basin, is pleased to announce its audited results for the year ended 31 December 2021.
Sea Lion and the Falkland Islands
· Definitive legally binding documents announced and, post-period, signed with Navitas Petroleum LP (“Navitas”) and Harbour Energy plc (“Harbour”)
o Navitas to acquire 65% interest in, and become Operator of, Rockhopper’s North Falkland Basin licences
o Harbour to exit the Falklands
· Navitas to fund all of Rockhopper’s Phase 1 Sea Lion project costs* pre FID via 8% loan
· Navitas to fund two-thirds of Rockhopper’s Sea Lion Phase 1 project costs* from FID to one year after first oil, or project completion if earlier, via interest free loan (for any costs not met by third party debt financing)
· Loans repaid from 85% of Rockhopper’s working interest share of Sea Lion Phase1 project cash flows
(* This excludes licence costs, taxes, abandonment and decommissioning costs (including the Temporary Dock Facility) and contract termination costs incurred in connection with Harbour withdrawing)
Corporate and Financial
· Administrative expenses at lowest level since pre-Sea Lion discovery – G&A US$3.3 million
· Cash of US$4.8 million as at 31 December 2021
· Ombrina Mare Arbitration proceedings formally closed on 25 April 2022 – seeking significant monetary damages
o Tribunal has 120 days after closing to issue its Award, extendable by 60 days
· Satisfaction of various conditions precedent to the Navitas and Harbour transaction required for deal completion, including various regulatory and other approvals required from the Falkland Islands Government
· Navitas to assume operatorship of Sea Lion and strengthen operating capability
· Lower upfront cost Sea Lion development to be worked up and financing sought
· FID targeted 2023/24
Keith Lough, Chairman of Rockhopper, commented:
” We are delighted to have signed legally binding documentation allowing Harbour a clean exit and bringing Navitas into the Falklands. At current oil prices and with an increased focus on security of supply, we believe a responsibly developed Sea Lion presents an exceptional chance to create very significant value for all stakeholders.
We look forward to working closely with Navitas on a lower cost development and associated financing plan for the project. With the Ombrina Mare arbitration result expected later in the year, we hope and believe that 2022 will be the start of a bright new chapter for Rockhopper “.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer’s Review
2021 saw the build-up to the outbreak of a major conflict in Europe for the first time in decades, with Russia invading Ukraine early in 2022. The most significant impact of the invasion has been and continues to be on the people of Ukraine, for whom Rockhopper’s Board express their support. A consequence of the invasion has been to place an increased focus on energy security of supply and the volume of oil and gas imported from Russia into Europe in particular. At the same time the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause uncertainty around energy demand with China imposing new lockdowns as cases spike and economic uncertainty continues across the globe. Against this backdrop it is perhaps unsurprising that energy prices have seen material volatility. The price of a barrel of Brent Crude Oil is around $115 as at time of writing, having risen from a low of $21 per barrel in April 2020.
While worldwide moves to reduce GHG emissions and reduce reliance on hydrocarbons continue as we journey through energy transition towards net zero, we believe that responsibly produced oil and gas will continue to form a meaningful part of global energy supply for many years to come.
With a best estimate of over 500 million barrels of recoverable oil ( ERCE 2016 report) , Sea Lion represents a potentially secure, highly material source of supply for those countries seeking to reduce their dependence on Russian oil. Under Premier Oil plc’s (“Premier”) development concept, based on hundreds of millions of dollars and multiple years of engineering efforts, the series of development phases at Sea Lion were projected to produce in excess of 120,000 barrels per day. At that rate, Sea Lion alone could be capable of replacing a highly material proportion of the oil by volume imported into the UK from Russia, all from a politically stable UK Overseas Dependent Territory. Furthermore, significant UK content is possible within the project and the regulatory regime in the Falklands will ensure the development is undertaken with high regard to ESG issues.
Rockhopper Exploration plc
Sam Moody – Chief Executive Officer
Tel. +44 (0) 20 7390 0234 (via Vigo Consulting)
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