Clontarf Energy, the oil and gas exploration company focused on Ghana and Bolivia, announces its unaudited financial results for the six months ended 30 June 2020:
The principal activities during this period were ongoing discussions with the Ghanaian authorities to finalise the ratification of our signed Petroleum Agreement on Tano 2A Block, and negotiating a lithium evaporates exploration and development agreement with the Bolivian authorities.
Ghanaian Tano 2A Petroleum Agreement
Ghana currently produces circa 200,000 barrels of oil per day, from the Jubilee, and TEN oil-fields . This is expected to increase to up to 500,000 barrels of oil per day by 2023, despite the OPEC + partner output cuts during the 2020 Covid-19 ("C-19") oil demand weakness.
Clontarf is ready to contribute to this growth, by initiating the Ghana Hydrocarbons Tano 2A work programme, subject to securing the necessary funding in an environment complicated by the recent oil price fall, as soon as the signed Petroleum Agreement is ratified.
Despite lower oil prices, the carefully calibrated Ghanaian fiscal terms help make the Tano Basin oil play feasible, given the demonstrated source rock and Cretaceous sands which remain an industry favourite. Indeed, the industry contraction may assist Clontarf focus strategy on the bigger potential stratigraphic traps.
Critical Ghanaian meetings, scheduled for March 2020, to finalise the few outstanding issues, had to be postponed due to C-19.
As of September 2020, Ghana now seems to be returning to normal, with surprising good compliance and low infection rates (possibly reflecting a young population - as well as experience preventing Ebola, etc. since 2002). Accra airport opened in September 2020. We are hopeful that progress may be made from October 2020 and will update shareholders as and when appropriate.
Bolivia has been hard-hit (as was much of South America) by C-19, leading to postponement of planned meetings, elections, and formation of the new government.
We have had informal discussions between our local director and officials. We are hopeful of progress after the elections, which were delayed due to C-19, but likely to proceed on 18th October, 2020.
The lithium brines processing work has continued, with technical discussions. We have a steadily deeper understanding of the issues and technical parameters, and hope to incorporate these in the final agreement.
Bolivian salt pans contain at least 50% of the world's brine lithium yet it has not been developed. The EU now estimates that global demand by 2050 will be 60 times the current lithium supply. The Board believes there is no economic way to supply this without major Bolivian supplies.
The end-2019 Bolivian general elections were inconclusive, with disputed results. Peaceful protests forced the departure of the outgoing government and the appointment of an interim administration in 2020, charged with early, impartial elections under international supervision. These elections were initially scheduled for May 2020, but ultimately postponed, due to the Bolivia C-19 lock-down, until 18th October 2020, with a possible 2nd round, if necessary to achieve greater than 50% voter approval.
Accordingly, the Company's scheduled March 2020 meetings on Bolivian lithium had to be postponed. Likewise the development of possible cooperation with a prospective partner on osmosis technology that may boost pure lithium recovery from brines. As of September 2020, Bolivia, and its neighbours remain shut down for international visits.
Immediately before the lock-down, the Company's local director presented Clontarf's updated proposals to the interim minister's staff. Our plans, based on a review of the 40 plus salt pans suggests that we focus on a small number of medium sized pans.
There followed a positive response, and subsequent ministerial briefing.
The Bolivians proposed some clarifications to ensure conformity of Clontarf's proposal (which had previously been agreed with the former YLB Chief) with the existing Lithium Law. It is also likely that the Lithium Law itself will be streamlined, so as to achieve Bolivia's objective of becoming a major lithium exporter. The interim economics minister has also publicly stressed the role of lithium development in helping Bolivia to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ambitious worldwide plans for Electric Vehicles (EVs), hybrid vehicles, as well as electrical storage to facilitate development of intermittent renewable power, make rapid growth in lithium demand inevitable. Attention so far has focused on the DRC's 64% share of Cobalt output, but the gap is similarly daunting for Lithium - which remains dominated by Australian hard-rock (53%), and Chile (21.5%).
Bolivia has not yet exported any battery-grade lithium salts - though it has up to 50% of global lithium resources. This offers a generational opportunity to those, like Clontarf Energy, with decades of Bolivian extractive industries' experience.