Thursday 21st April 2005


Energy fund eyes bpTT’s offshore assets

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By Luis Araujo

Prometheus, the energy fund collaboration between RBTT and GHL, wants to buy the Government’s stake in the Teak, Poui and Samaan sale.

Joel Pemberton, regional manager, Trinidad at RBTT Merchant, said last week that the fund wants to take the 15 per cent stake that the Government is entitled to and offer it to the local public.

The fund managers have not yet sat down with Energy Minister Eric Williams to formalise the offer.

Last month, bpTT announced the sale of its mature TPS fields. As part of the deal, the Government has the option to acquire up to 15 per cent.

The Government has not yet decided what it will do with the option, although both NGC and Petrotrin have expressed an interest. The sale agreement allows the Government to have up to two companies in its portion and the minister said a few weeks ago that, at the end of the day, the Government will not directly own the portion.

There is also the option of putting out the 15 per cent or a piece of it to an initial public offer.

Pemberton said, though, that simply offering the stake to NGC or Petrotrin by itself would not increase local ownership.

Prometheus was formed last month as a private equity fund, with RBTT and GHL contributing US$50 million each. Up until now the idea is really to invest in local energy projects. Now, though, the fund managers want to buy the Government’s stake and “almost immediately will offer it on the local market, thereby allowing the man on the street to buy a stake directly,” Pemberton said.

In fact, if the fund gets through with its plans it will be looking to take an even bigger stake in the assets. In that event, Pemberton said, the fund would try to encourage whatever company buys the remaining 85 per cent to part with about five per cent.

“Ideally we would want about 20 per cent,” Pemberton said, adding that would allow for a better spread of ownership among local investors.

BpTT has begun its drive to find a buyer for the assets. The company and the ministry have a list of ideal candidates but neither party has been willing to divulge who is on that list.

The offer by Prometheus is preliminary, adding that it still has to do a due diligence. BpTT has not put a price tag on the assets but with an estimated 40 million barrels in reserve and at a possible US$8-US$10 per barrel, that would put the value between US$320-$400 million for the whole package.

Pemberton noted that, apart from Mora Ven, there are no energy companies on the T&T Stock Exchange.

“There’s a big anomaly,” he said. “That model has to change for us to be more sophisticated. We have to see more locally listed energy companies.”

©2004-2005 Trinidad Publishing Company Limited

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