Home | News    Saturday 26 February 2005

White Nile Sudan Oil JV details seen out March 4 - Source

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By Jackie Range and Benoit Faucon

LONDON, Feb 25, 2005 (Dow Jones) — London-listed oil company White Nile Ltd. (WNL.LN) will soon issue critical details of its controversial joint venture with the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement, a source said.

"We are hoping Friday next week", for the information, said the person, adding that the 11-page announcement would contain details of the joint venture and geological reports. It will also include statements from the company’s founders: former cricket player Phil Edmonds and mining entrepreneur Andrew Groves and outline the "general risks" associated with the project.

Last week the company said in a statement it would provide an update on the agreement this week. The SPLM is set to form the interim government of southern Sudan later this year.

In a statement last Friday, the oil exploration firm said it "had concluded an agreement with the government of South Sudan to acquire a 60% interest in the 67,500 square kilometer Block Ba."

A White Nile spokesman declined comment.

The block was previously held by France’s Total SA (TOT), which disputes the legality of the deal.

Previously a spokesman for White Nile had said that the company hadn’t released the full details of the agreement because it was "awaiting clearance regarding the structure of the deal with the London Stock Exchange."

A person familiar with the matter at the LSE said that the complexity of the deal was such that it "requires information similar to another IPO prospectus."

Diplomats, analysts and lawyers say the oil-development agreement between the speculative London energy firm and the former rebel group, the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement, could at best force the Sudanese government of the north into further negotiations with the SPLM. At worst, the delicate peace agreement between the parties could unravel.

Under the peace agreement, a six-year interim ceasefire period will begin in Maywith the north and south sharing oil revenues. while a regional government in the south wields considerable autonomy in anticipation of a referendum on southern independence.

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