Maersk Oil builds footprint in Africa

Company formally joins peers in area already boasting new oil discoveries.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Feb. 24, 2016 at 8:16 AM
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COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Danish energy company Maersk Oil said it was taking a stronger position in operations in emerging oil prospects in Kenya and Ethiopia.

Maersk said it completed the acquisition of a greater stake in onshore exploration licenses in Kenya and Ethiopia from its peers. The license areas include nine recent oil discoveries and the grab follows consent from Ethiopian and Kenyan governments.

"We are pleased to announce that we are now officially a partner in the five East African exploration licenses and look forward to adding value to the partnership," Ebbie Haan, a growth officer for Maersk, said in a statement. "The entry into Kenya is part of our commitment to pursuing profitable growth and takes advantage of the opportunities arising in the current market."

Four of the blocks are operated by Tullow Oil and one is operated by Africa Oil. Tullow described the region as one of its core areas of focus, with an estimated 2.3 billion barrels of recoverable oil discovered to date.

Maersk last year paid about $365 million up front in part to cover exploration costs for Africa Oil and contingent $405 million in potential development costs for acreage covering northern Kenya and Ethiopia.

Few commercial developments have been reported in the region and low oil prices may inhibit substantial investments, a market scenario that's encouraged multi-party development deals.

Tullow, which focuses almost exclusively on African basins, reported a drop in revenue of around 27 percent and a net debt increase of around $4 billion for 2015.

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