Quarterly report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d)

Commitments and Contingencies

Commitments and Contingencies
3 Months Ended
Mar. 31, 2013
Commitments and Contingencies [Abstract]  


The Company entered into a sixth exploration period extension during 2009 and is required to spend $5.3 million for its share of two exploration wells and to acquire and process 150 square kilometers of 3-D seismic on the Etame Marin block by July 2014. One of the two exploration commitment wells was drilled in 2010 on the Omangou prospect at a cost of $8.6 million ($2.6 million net to the Company). The seismic obligation was met with the acquisition of 223 square kilometers of 3-D seismic in 2012. The remaining obligation is the drilling of one exploration well which is scheduled to be drilled in mid-2013.

As part of securing the second ten-year production license with the government of Gabon, the Company agreed in principle to a cash funding arrangement for the eventual abandonment of the offshore wells, platforms and facilities. The agreement is not yet finalized, but calls for annual funding for the next seven years at 12.14% of the total abandonment estimate per year and 5.0% per year for the last three years of the production license. The amounts paid will be reimbursed through the cost account and are non-refundable to the Company. The funding is expected to begin in 2013 after the agreement is finalized. The abandonment estimate for this purpose is approximately $9.7 million net to the Company on an undiscounted basis. The obligation for abandonment of the Gabon offshore facilities is included in the asset retirement obligation shown on the Company’s balance sheet.


In November 2006, the Company signed a production sharing contract for Block 5 offshore Angola. The four year primary term with an optional three year extension awards the Company exploration rights to 1.4 million acres offshore central Angola. The Company’s working interest is 40%. Additionally, the Company is required to carry the Angolan national oil company, Sonangol P&P, for 10% of the work program. During the first four years of the contract, the Company was required to acquire and process 1,000 square kilometers of 3-D seismic data, drill two exploration wells and expend a minimum of $29.5 million ($14.8 million net to the Company). The Company fulfilled its seismic obligation when it acquired 1,175 square kilometers of 3-D seismic data at a cost of $7.5 million ($3.75 million net to the Company) in January 2007 and 524 square kilometers of 3-D seismic data during the fourth quarter of 2008 at a cost of $6.0 million ($3.0 million net to the Company).


The government-assigned working interest partner was delinquent paying their share of the costs several times in 2009 and consequently was placed in a default position. By a governmental decree, dated December 1, 2010, the former partner was removed from the production sharing contract. Following the decree, the Company and the government of Angola have been working together to obtain a replacement partner. Additional time extensions have been granted by the Angolan government to drill the two exploration commitment wells, the latest extension providing until November 30, 2014 to drill.

In the second quarter of 2012, the Company identified a potential partner to acquire the available 40% working interest and submitted the name of the interested party to the Angolan government for approval. In November 2012, the government advised the Company that it has entered into negotiations with the potential partner. Information provided by the Angolan government in the first quarter of 2013 is that the process is still underway.

Each of the two exploration commitment wells is subject to a $5.0 million penalty ($10.0 million in aggregate for both wells) if not drilled during the contract term with a current expiry date of November 30, 2014. The $10.0 million is currently recorded as restricted cash and is held at a financial institution located in the United States.

Because of the continuing uncertainty with the Angolan government approving a replacement partner, the Company has recorded a full allowance totaling $6.9 million as of March 31, 2013, against the accounts receivable from partners for the amounts owed to the Company above its 40% working interest plus the 10% carried interest. The allowance recorded in the three months ended March 31, 2013 totaled $0.9 million with the remainder having been recorded in prior years. The Company expects the gross receivable to be paid to the Company after a new partner in the block is approved.