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GNPC Readies Bid for Kosmos Jubilee Stake

Source: Reuters 11/4/2009, Location: Africa

State-run Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) could bid for Kosmos Energy's stake in the giant offshore Jubilee field after it clears up a dispute over shared technical data, a source at the company said on Wednesday.

GNPC's interest in the prospect, part of one of the biggest oil finds in Africa, could flummox Exxon Mobil's reported deal to purchase it for $4 billion.

"We have not presented any proposal to Kosmos yet -- we'd only do so when we conclude our ongoing talks aimed at resolving the data right violation by Kosmos," the GNPC source said.

GNPC declined official comment.

GNPC is in talks with privately backed Kosmos to resolve a dispute over the extent to which technical information about the Jubilee field can be passed on to other oil companies -- which analysts have said is common practice. The GNPC source said that talks to resolve the dispute were progressing and that the company is "hoping to conclude the matter soon in order to move on."

Kosmos, which is backed by private equity groups Blackstone Group and Warburg Pincus [WP.UL], has a 30.875 percent stake in Jubilee's West Cape Three Points block and an 18 percent interest in the Deepwater Tano block.

Exxon Mobil agreed to buy Kosmos' stake last month after beating off competition from western and Asian oil companies, sources close to the matter said.

The GNPC source restated that the state agency had raised enough money to acquire the stake alone, without elaborating.

"We have the money and we have been ready for this (acquisition) long ago -- even before the speculations started about the other bidders," he said.

Energy analysts have been sceptical that the company had deep enough pockets to purchase the property.

However a World Bank Ghana representative said last week he believed GNPC could acquire the stake on its own.

"There are various ways to go about it -- without necessarily paying the full amount for it, but using strong commitment from the potential partner as guarantee," World Bank representative Ishac Diwan said.

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