Quarterly report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d)

Commitments And Contingencies

Commitments And Contingencies
6 Months Ended
Jun. 30, 2011
Commitments And Contingencies  
Commitments And Contingencies

Offshore Gabon

In November 2009, the Company negotiated and signed the sixth exploration period extension on the Etame Marin block. The three year extension expires in July 2014. The Company committed to the drilling of two exploration wells and acquiring and processing 150 square kilometers of 3D seismic with a $17.5 million minimum financial commitment ($5.3 million net to the Company). The Company began seismic operations for a short period in November 2010 and expects to resume seismic activity in September 2011, which will satisfy the seismic obligation. One of the two required exploratory wells was drilled in the fourth quarter of 2010 with the drilling of the Omangou well, an unsuccessful effort at a cost of $2.6 million.

Onshore Gabon

In October 2010, the Company signed a second exploration period extension on the Mutamba Iroru block which expires in May 2012. The Company is obligated to reprocess 400 square kilometers of 2D seismic and drill one exploration well. An agreement with Total Gabon ("Total") was completed in August 2010, which established a joint operation on the block beginning when the one year extension was finalized with the Republic of Gabon. Accordingly, Total acquired a 50% working interest in the block effective November 1, 2010. The terms of the agreement provide for Total paying a disproportionate share of the seismic reprocessing costs and the exploration well drilling costs. The seismic reprocessing began in the first quarter of 2011 and the exploration well is expected to be drilled in the first half of 2012 before the expiration of the exploration period.


In November 2006, the Company signed a production sharing contract for Block 5 offshore Angola. The four year primary contract 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, drill two exploration wells and expend a minimum of $29.5 million ($14.8 million net to the Company). The Company acquired the 1,175 square kilometers of 3-D data called for in the first exploration period at a cost of $7.5 million ($3.75 million net to the Company) in January 2007. Subsequently, the Company acquired 524 square kilometers of proprietary 3-D seismic data on the block during the fourth quarter of 2008 at a cost of $6.0 million ($3.0 million net to the Company), and has interpreted the seismic data in preparation for the drilling of the two required exploration wells. The seismic obligation has been met.

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 which impacted the timing for drilling the exploration wells. In early 2010, the Company began working with the government of Angola regarding a time extension for the drilling of the wells beyond the November 2010 expiration date and to obtain a replacement partner. By governmental decree dated December 1, 2010, the former partner was removed from the production sharing contract and a one year time extension was granted. Following the decree, the Company and the government of Angola have been working together to obtain a replacement partner. In the second quarter of 2011, the government informed the Company it is in negotiations with a potential partner to participate in the VAALCO block in addition to other Angolan blocks. As such, the government instructed the Company to obtain bids from drilling rig companies and agreed to be financially responsible for expenditures made prior to the naming of the replacement partner. The Company expects a contract will be awarded for a rig to begin drilling the first well in the first quarter of 2012. Due to the timing of rig availability, the Company requested a formal extension to the November 2011 expiration date for drilling the two exploration wells and was provided a guarantee from an official at Sonangol that the extension would be granted. While the Company believes that the government of Angola will grant another extension, the Company can provide no assurances that such an extension will be granted. If the government of Angola were to deny a time extension, and the wells are not in the process of being drilled by the end of November 2011, the Company risks forfeiture of its $10 million funds in escrow and the Company may be required to impair its leasehold costs and other investments with a carrying amount of $14.6 million as of June 30, 2011.

United States

In July 2011, the Company signed a letter of intent with Magellan Petroleum Corporation, to acquire and develop an operating working interest in approximately 23,000 net mineral acres of oil, gas and mineral leases in Roosevelt County, Montana. In the event the Company does not complete the transaction within sixty days from the date the letter of intent was signed, the Company is obligated to make a $0.5 million payment to the seller.