Patience needed for Nido development

NIDO Petroleum managing director Dr Michael Fisher told PNG Industry News the company’s debts were an ongoing worry after upgrading the potential size of its Galoc project while delivering yet another half-year loss last week.
Patience needed for Nido development Patience needed for Nido development Patience needed for Nido development Patience needed for Nido development Patience needed for Nido development

Haydn Black


Fisher said that while Nido had been outwardly quiet for much of the last year, a lot of work was being done in the background, building the right capabilities, with the right projects in the right jurisdictions, to enable it to thrive once confidence returned to the oil patch.

"It used to be you had some producing assets and you went and did some exploration, but these days you have to be smarter. It worked 10 years ago, but you can't make that work now," Fisher told PNG Industry News.

Patience is vital to continue to build Nido as a sizeable Asian oil and gas producer, he said.

The company and its major shareholder, Bangchak Petroleum, are putting together a strategy is for once the worst of the downturn is over, and as part of that there is a lot of caution on picking up new projects, something Dr Fisher was keen to do when he was appointed last year.

"The opportunities coming to market have been at the bottom end of what we would like, because there were all these fears of the oil price heading to $US22 per barrel, when nothing would be economic," he said.

"We have screened significant numbers of opportunities, and if I wanted to do a deal I could do one easily, but it wouldn't be a smart deal.

"We are conscious of the fact that the first one or two deals we do need to be smart.

"We would rather sit and do nothing than do a bad deal, because for some of the assets that are around now, when you sit and look at them, there is no way anyone can make money out of it, it is purely so they can announce they have done a deal, but a lot of the things we have looked at have had a fatal flaw."

He believes that quality assets will soon come into the market as the gap between buyer and seller expectations closes, but Nido will continue to be cautious in its asset mix.

"It is a nice story to build a lot of greenfield targets through an exploration process, but that carries a lot of risk, and unless you manage it effectively, particularly funding, it can be fraught with danger, and that's where Nido and many other companies have been in the past," he said.

Of course, the elephants in the room are Nido's continued losses despite its production, its historic lack of exploration success, and its significant debts due to Bangchak, all of which are millstones around the company's neck.

While Nido generated almost $US15 million (K47.57 million) in revenue for the first half of the year, down from some $41 million in 2015, it swung to a net loss after tax of $11.1 million, down from a mere $843,000 loss the year earlier.

The oil cost more to sell, at $20.326 million, than it bought in, although that was still better than the $38.5 million in costs from the year before thanks to reductions in the FPSO rate, field operating costs and government taxes.

A further $3.46 million was paid to Bangchak and administration costs of $3.285 million.

"It's not an ideal situation," Fisher said.

"Our balance sheet is not as rosy as we would like, so we are trying to restructure that and working with Bangchak to agree to a strategy.

"They took their position in Nido because they wanted to build a significant exploration and production business, but they have been challenged by timing as immediately after they took their position in Nido the oil price dropped, and really for the past 12 months they have been looking very hard at the business."

For much the same reason the proposed development of West Linapacan A remains marginal and unlikely to proceed, but technical work continues across the portfolio, although the focus is on the potential for a third phase for Galoc.

Last week Nido took delivery of an upgraded reserves assessment that increased the likelihood of the development extending into a proposed northern lobe, but for the cash-strapped Philippines-focused oiler there is still a lot of work to do before it can commit to an appraisal well.

The independent assessment from Odin Reservoir Consultants estimates the total field area contains 2C contingent resources of 7.4 million barrels net to Nido's 55.88% interest for both the Galoc central and extension areas.


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