Yemen headache for GSPC at Jubilant indecision

Vol 14, PW 23 (19 May 11) People & Policy

You would think an exploration company in Yemen would be worried about the four-month old, ongoing anti-government uprising or a resurgent al-Qaeda, unhappy about the killing of Osama bin Laden.

But for GSPC, this is strangely not the case. GSPC’s primary cause for concern about three exploration blocks it operates in Yemen is its Indian partner Jubilant Energy (!) GSPC blames Delhi-based Jubilant for delaying exploration work at Yemen’s Block 19 or al-Jawf; Block 28 or North Belhaf; and Block 57 or al-Rayan.

GSPC operates each block with a 40% stake alongside Jubilant, which holds 35% and Hyderabad-based Alkor Petroo, which holds 25%. “We’ve been trying for nearly two years to get our partners to approve the exploration work programmes and budgets,” complains a GSPC source.

“Alkor Petroo is more than willing to go ahead if approval comes through from Jubilant. But Jubilant refuses to cooperate.

” Our source speculates this could be because of a recent management change at the Bhartia family-controlled Jubilant where “the new team” wants to "re-negotiate terms with Yemen authorities and isn’t interested in overseas assets" – an allegation Jubilant denies. GSPC won these blocks in April 2008.

The PSA was ratified by Yemen’s parliament on March 17, 2009 and came alive on April 17, 2009. In Phase-I, GSPC has committed four exploration wells at the 8425-sq km al-Jawf block and three exploration wells at the 10,963-sq km al-Rayan block, as well as three wells at the 4465-sq km North Belhaf block.

Only two years remain before the four-year Phase-I at these blocks ends. If GSPC fails to complete its Minimum Work Programme, it might forfeit the $60m ‘performance bank guarantee’ submitted to Yemen authorities.

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