Photo: Illustration; Source: Eco Atlantic

Eco taking over Azinam’s African portfolio with drilling campaign on the way

Oil and gas exploration company Eco (Atlantic) Oil & Gas has inked a deal to expand its footprint offshore South Africa and Namibia by acquiring Azinam Group and its asset portfolio. The firm also revealed plans for a 2022 South Africa drilling programme.

Eco reported on Monday that it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to acquire 100 per cent of Azinam Group – including Azinam’s entire offshore asset portfolio – in return for a 16.65 per cent equity stake in the enlarged group on completion of the acquisition.

For the acquisition of a material offshore petroleum exploration asset base in Namibia and South Africa, Azinam, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Azinam Holdings – majority-owned by Seacrest Capital Group – will also be issued warrants in the company, exercisable only upon a producible commercial discovery.

This transaction is expected to strengthen the group’s strategic partnership with Africa Energy and Africa Oil. The deal is expected to be completed by 31 January 2022 subject to – among other things – the signing of a share purchase agreement and satisfactory completion of due diligence by Eco and any requisite approvals.

The firm also outlined its drilling programme including an exploration well, which is planned to be drilled on Block 2B in South Africa in the second half of 2022. The company explained that discussions are already underway with Eco’s key existing stakeholders in relation to underwriting the funds required to participate directly in the 2022 Block 2B South Africa drilling programme.

More offshore acreage in South Africa & Namibia

Eco Atlantic will issue Azinam with 16.65 per cent of Eco’s share capital pursuant to the MOU and subject to the signing of a binding share purchase agreement and completion of the acquisition, which will enable Eco to become the sole owner of Azinam’s entire African portfolio. The completion of the acquisition is also subject to any requisite approvals from the Government of South Africa, the Government of Namibia, and the TSX Venture Exchange.

Gil Holzman, Co-Founder and CEO of Eco Atlantic, remarked: “We are delighted to update the market on this exciting transaction and welcome the stronger alignment with Africa Oil Corp. and the broader Lundin Group through direct partnership in Blocks 3B/4B and 2B.”

In the Orange Basin, offshore South Africa, Eco Atlantic will acquire 50 per cent working interest and operatorship in Block 2B, where Africa Energy Corp. and Panoro Energy maintain working interests. The company will also acquire a material working interest of 20 per cent in the deepwater 3B/4B Block and the shallow water and nearshore 3B/4B Blocks, allowing Eco to strengthen its ongoing strategic partnership with Africa Oil Corp.

Source: Azinam
Source: Azinam

Partners in Block 3B/4B, which is located in South Africa Orange Basin directly south of the current drilling Namibia Orange Basin wells – Graff-1 (Shell) and Venus-1 (TotalEnergies), are currently reprocessing a large 3D seismic survey that will be used to high-grade leads towards a drilling prospect. 

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Keith Hill, Non-Executive Director of Eco Atlantic and CEO of Africa Oil, further commented: “The recent string of industry exploration successes, led by Guyana/Suriname but also in Ivory Coast, Ghana and offshore Brazil, has refocused attention on frontier basins in the southern Atlantic. With the addition of the Azinam acreage, we now hold some of the highest potential acreage in many of these proven and developing areas.

“The Orange Basin has two high profile wells currently drilling, namely the TotalEnergies Venus-1 and Shell Graff-1 wells, and success in either or both of these wells could make it one of the hottest exploration destinations in the world.”

Furthermore, Eco will acquire additional working interests offshore Namibia in its current oil blocks – petroleum exploration licenses: 97, 98 and 99 – where Azinam is a partner. As a result, Eco’s net working interest in these licenses will be 85 per cent following completion. According to Eco, these Blocks have the same working interests as its existing interest in license 100. Eco negotiated the reissuance and establishment of a ten-year life cycle for each of these licenses in November 2020 and currently operates all four licenses.

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“The acquisition strengthens our long-term and strategic position in Namibia, giving us 85 per cent and operatorship in four highly prospective blocks, and gives us added versatility as we look to partner with a major player to help accelerate further exploration activities in the country’s burgeoning energy industry,” explained Holzman.

Following completion of the acquisition, Azinam will also be issued warrants over new common shares in Eco, exercisable only in case of a producible commercial discovery on Block 2B or Block 3B/4B. In addition, Azinam will enter into a lock-in agreement to restrict the sale of the consideration shares until the spudding of a well on Block 2B or six months following completion in respect of a third of the consideration shares, with two equal further tranches being released from the lock-in 12 and 18 months following the acquisition.

It is worth noting that Azinam’s assets totalled approximately $16 million on 30 September 2021, while in the nine months to 30 September 2021, the firm recorded a net income of approximately $1.26 million.

 “As we have always stated in our corporate strategy, our goal is to build a portfolio that will offer shareholders near-term exposure to high impact drilling catalysts. The Azinam acquisition requires no cash funding to close, and positive discussions have been ongoing with Eco’s key existing stakeholders in relation to underwriting the funds required to participate directly in 2022 South Africa drilling activity,” stated Holzman.  

2022 South Africa drilling programme

The operatorship and a 50 per cent working interest acquired in Block 2B will enable Eco to join block partners (joint venture): Africa Energy Corp. (27.5 per cent stake), Panoro 2B Limited (12.5 per cent) and Crown Energy AB (10 per cent).

 “The Gazania-1 well is planned to be drilled this year on Block 2B in South Africa in a rift basin that shows remarkably similar characteristics to the Lokichar Basin in Kenya. Its location in shallow water would facilitate a fast-track development with favourable economics. Africa Oil is very supportive of this acquisition and will actively assist Eco in its near-term exploration and any corporate initiatives,” stated Hill.

Moreover, Block 2B already has a previous light oil discovery – Soekor A-J1, drilled in 1988 – that proved the presence of high-quality oil in the area. During the drilling, thick reservoir sandstones were intersected between 2,985 metres and 3,350 metres. The well was tested and flowed 191 barrels of oil per day of 36-degree API oil from a 10-metre sandstone interval at about 3,250 metres. The 686 square-kilometre 3D seismic data from 2013 confirmed the up-dip prospectivity of the A-J1 discovery and significant further prospectivity.

Azinam Block 2B
Source: Azinam

Colin Kinley, Co-Founder and COO of Eco Atlantic, elaborated: “Much of the engineering and geological and geophysical work on the Gazania-1 well has been completed during the past year, so we are stepping into an active plan, which has the potential to offer shareholders additional near term catalysts. We have an experienced team of exploration specialists who are working to finalize the well planning and we benefit from having excellent support from our JV Partners at Africa Energy from their Cape Town base.”

In Block 2B, Azinam and the JV Partners have defined proposed drilling targets, completed a seabed survey, conducted a semi-submersible rig tender and begun negotiations to secure critical equipment, including securing a wellhead, and negotiating a rig contract. The joint venture partners also secured a contract with NRG Well Management to complete well design engineering and to assist with critical path well planning.

Expected to be drilled in the second half of 2022, the Gazania-1 exploration well will target estimates of 349 million barrels of oil in relatively shallow water depths of less than 200 metres. Located in the Orange Basin approximately 300 kilometres north of Cape Town with water depths ranging from 50 to 200 metres, Block 2B covers an area of 3,062 km2. Eco will step into the role of the operator to drill this well and discussions are ongoing with its key existing stakeholders in relation to underwriting the funds required to participate directly in the 2022 South Africa drilling activity.

“We are looking forward to commencing with our drilling campaigns planned in the prospective Block 2B in South Africa and in Guyana this year and beyond, and we will continue to further build our corporation to offer additional exploration catalysts as and when we believe these opportunities will be value accretive to our stakeholders,” added Holzman.

Drilling plans offshore Guyana

Eco and its joint venture partners firmly believe that the Tullow Oil-operated Orinduik Block in Guyana offers significant upside and are focused on the careful selection of stacked drilling target locations in the Cretaceous light oil. The firm plans to update the market on the 2022 target selection and drilling plans on the block once they are finalized. 

Moreover, on Canje Block, where Eco holds 6.4 per cent in JHI Associates – which holds a 17.5 per cent working interest – the operator, ExxonMobil, and JV partners including TotalEnergies continue to evaluate the 2021 drilling programme technical results.

“We anticipate that our drilling in South Africa this year will be closely followed by an exploration well in Guyana. These activities come at a time when global discovered resources volumes and access to energy in southern Africa is at an all-time low and hydrocarbons are desperately required as the world navigates the path of successfully achieving the energy transition,” stressed Holzman.

Guyana continues to be one of the most prolific exploration regions in the world, with over ten billion barrels of oil discovered in the last six years, while two new significant oil discoveries were announced last week by ExxonMobil-led consortium on the Stabroek Block north of Orinduik Block. 

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“We firmly believe that companies such as ours that explore for oil in and around emerging economies will play a vital role in reducing energy poverty,” concluded Holzman.