Quarterly report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d)

Commitments and Contingencies

Commitments and Contingencies
6 Months Ended
Jun. 30, 2015
Commitments and Contingencies [Abstract]  
Commitments and Contingencies


Lease Obligations

We contracted for two drilling rigs during the year ended December 31, 2014. In April 2014, we contracted with a drilling rig to begin a multi-well development drilling campaign offshore Gabon. The campaign includes drilling of development wells from the Etame platform, development wells from the Southeast Etame/North Tchibala (“SEENT”) platform and workovers of existing wells in the Etame Marin block. The rig commenced drilling activities in October 2014 and continues under a contract until July 2016, at a day rate of approximately $168,000 on a gross basis for 2015 and $172,000 on a gross basis for 2016. Our net share of the initial total commitment related to this rig was $25.8 million. As a result of drilling activity through June 30, 2015, the remaining net share of the commitment is $17.7 million. The second drilling rig contract was signed in July 2014 for a semi-submersible rig to drill an exploration well on the Kindele prospect, a post-salt objective on Block 5, offshore Angola. The drilling rig provided a forty-five day commitment at a day rate of approximately $338,000 on a gross basis. Our net share of the initial total commitment related to this rig was $7.6 million. The well began drilling in the first quarter of 2015.  With the drilling of the Kindele well and the release of the rig on April 19, 2015, we have no further commitment under this contract.



As part of securing the first of two-five year extensions to the Etame field production license to which we are entitled from the government of Gabon, we agreed to a cash funding arrangement for the eventual abandonment of all offshore wells, platforms and facilities on the Etame Marin Block. The agreement was finalized in the first quarter of 2014 (effective 2011) providing for annual funding over a period of  ten years at 12.14% of the total abandonment estimate for the first seven years 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. The initial funding took place in October 2014 for calendar years 2012 and 2013 totaling $8.4 million ($2.3 million net to VAALCO). The funding for calendar year 2014 was paid in the first quarter of 2015 in the amount of $4.2 million ($1.2 million net to VAALCO). The abandonment estimate for this purpose is approximately $10.1 million net to VAALCO on an undiscounted basis. As in prior periods, the obligation for abandonment of the Gabon offshore facilities is included in the asset retirement obligation shown on our balance sheet. The cash funding is reflected under other long term assets as Abandonment funding.

In October 2014, we received a provisional audit report related to the Etame Marin block operations from the Gabon Taxation Department as part of a special industry-wide audit of business practices and financial transactions in the Republic of Gabon.  In November 2014, we responded to the Gabon Taxation Department requesting joint meetings to advance the resolution of this matter and later provided a formal reply to the provisional audit report in February 2015.  A tentative agreement was reached with the Gabon Taxation Department in April 2015, and a meeting to finalize the audit is being scheduled for August 2015. We expect that resolution of the audit exceptions will not result in a material impact to our financial position, results of operations or cash flows.

The audit of 2011 and 2012 by the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (“DGH”), which is responsible for implementation of oil policy and the management and development of oil and gas resources in Gabon, is approaching resolution. A meeting to finalize the audit is being scheduled for August 2015. We expect that resolution of the audit exceptions will not result in a material impact to our financial position, results of operations or cash flows. 


In November 2006, we signed a production sharing contract for Block 5 offshore Angola. The four year primary term, with an optional three year extension, awards us exploration rights to 1.4 million acres offshore central Angola. Our working interest is 40%. Additionally, we are 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, we had commitments to acquire and process seismic and drill two exploration wells.  The seismic commitments were met within the time period, but the wells were not drilled due to partner non-performance.

The government-assigned working interest partner was delinquent in 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, and a one year time extension was granted for drilling the two exploration commitment wells. Additional extensions were subsequently granted by the Angolan government until November 30, 2014 to drill the two exploration commitment wells.

In the fourth quarter of 2013, we received a written confirmation from The Ministry of Petroleum of Angola that the available 40% working interest in Block 5, offshore Angola, had been assigned to Sonangol E.P., the National Concessionaire.  The Ministry of Petroleum also confirmed that Sonangol E.P. would assign the aforementioned participating interest to its exploration and production affiliate, Sonangol P&P. The assignment was made effective on January 1, 2014. Our position is that the unpaid amounts from the defaulted partner plus the amounts incurred on the partner’s behalf during the period prior to assignment of the working interest to Sonangol P&P are the responsibility of the acquirer of the working interest.  We invoiced Sonangol P&P for these amounts totaling $7.6 million plus interest in April 2014.  Due to the uncertainty of collection, we have recorded a full allowance totaling $7.6 million during 2011 through 2013 for the amount owed us above our 40% working interest plus the 10% carried interest. Because this amount continues to be owed and due to slow payment history of the monthly cash call invoices since their assignment date of January 1, 2014, we placed Sonangol P&P in default in the first quarter of 2015.  Meetings were most recently held in June 2015 with Sonangol E.P. regarding the amounts owed and the slow payment history.  Sonangol E.P. acknowledged the legitimacy of the amounts owed and pledged to work to bring the Sonangol P&P account to a current status. Although payments totaling $22.2 million have been received from Sonangol P&P in 2015, they continue to be in default as of August 6, 2015 due to non-payment of the pre-assignment costs and unpaid recent cash call invoices.

In April 2014, we received a letter and contractual amendment proposal from Sonangol E.P., related to the extension of the two well drilling commitment, prior to the expiration of the extension on November 30, 2014. Due to the uncertainty that the primary term of the exploration license would be extended by the Republic of Angola before the November 30, 2014 expiration date, in October 2014, we entered into the Subsequent Exploration Phase (“SEP”), together with our working interest partner, Sonangol P&P. The SEP extends the exploration period for an additional three year period such that the new expiry date for exploration activities is November 30, 2017. Entering the SEP requires us and our partner to acquire 3D seismic covering a total of six hundred square kilometers and to drill two additional exploration wells.

Late in 2013, we obtained additional seismic data covering the deeper segment of the block.  The seismic data was processed during 2014 and continues to be processed and evaluated in 2015. With the purchase of the additional seismic data, we satisfied the seismic obligation of the SEP.

By entering into the SEP, we are required to drill a total of four exploration wells during the exploration extension period.  The four well obligations include the two well commitments under the primary exploration period that carries over to the SEP period. A $10.0 million dollar assessment ($5.0 million dollars net to VAALCO) applies to each of the four commitment exploration wells, if any, that remain undrilled at the end of the exploration period in November 2017. Additional restricted cash of $10.0 million for the two new commitment wells was recorded in the fourth quarter of 2014. With the drilling of the Kindele well in 2015, we have satisfied the drilling commitment for the first exploratory well, and therefore restricted cash decreased by $5.0 million in the first quarter of 2015.  At June 30, 2015,  the $15.0 million included in long-term restricted cash reflected on our balance sheet is related to the remaining commitment under the offshore Angola exploration agreement.

In the first quarter of 2015, we began drilling an exploratory well on the Kindele prospect, a post-salt objective.  While thick, well-developed sands were encountered in the primary objectives, the sands were determined to be water-bearing, and the well was plugged and abandoned.  Accordingly, we charged $27.2 million to exploration expense in the first quarter of 2015 for the well and related unproved leasehold impairment.