Under the terms of the agreement, Gaz de France will conduct and fund geophysical studies in the acreage to further reduce risks of selected exploration prospects and subsequently carry costs attributable to part of Hardman's remaining participating interest through the first exploration well. The agreement also provides two further options to Gaz de France: first, to exit the joint venture after completing the further geophysical studies; and second, the option for Gaz de France to increase its participating interest to 30%, shortly after completion of the first exploration well.
The Guyane Maritime EEL was awarded in June 2001 and has since been the subject of an extensive exploration program by Hardman. Over 9,000 line kilometers of 2D seismic data and 380km2 of 3D seismic data have been recorded in two campaigns, resulting in the identification of more than 20 prospects and leads. It is intended that the Matamata prospect would be the first to be drilled, and subject to contracting a suitable rig, drilling is expected in late 2007 or 2008.
The farm-out reduces Hardman's participating interest in the EEL from 97.5% to 77.5%. The farm-out is subject to the usual regulatory approvals and official rendering of the second period of the EEL. Hardman will remain as operator.
Commenting on the agreement, Hardman's MD and CEO, Simon Potter, said:
"The entry of Gaz de France into the Guyane Maritime permit brings new technical and cultural strengths to the venture. We welcome the participation of Gaz de France, and look forward to working jointly with them to advance hydrocarbon exploration within the Guyane maritime area."
Equities in the Guyane Maritime EEL on completion of the farm-out agreement, assuming that neither option is exercised, will become:
Pre Farm-Out Post Farm-Out Planet Oil Limited / Hardman France SAS (operator) 97.5 % 77.5 % Northpet Investments Limited 2.5 % 2.5 % Gaz de France SA --- 20.0 %
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