Equatorial Guinea Says Schlumberger Walked Away From Fortuna Project


CAPE TOWN, June 6 (Reuters) - Equatorial Guinea's energy minister on Monday said Schlumberger had walked away from the country's Fortuna floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) project but he also said he was confident it would be successful.

Fortuna, Africa's first deep-water independent floating liquefied natural gas project, is one of a number planned when energy prices were higher. The offshore field is expected to produce 2.2 million tonnes per annum.

Oil and gas explorer Ophir Energy in April said it had ended talks with Schlumberger over the U.S. company's upstream participation in Fortuna.

Energy minister Obiang Lima said he was confident the project would go ahead and be successful, with Equatorial Guinea taking an equity stake via its state-owned companies.

"Some people were a little bit hesitant after Schlumberger left but the problem with Schlumberger is that they wanted to monopolise everything and we don't want that," Lima told Reuters on the sidelines of an oil and gas conference in Cape Town.

"Some people thought they left because the project was not profitable. That is not the case - it was because they wanted to do everything and we cannot allow one service company to do everything," he said.

Schlumberger was not immediately available to comment.

Ophir said it was talking to a range of equity investors, as well as gas buyers, to help to finance the project.

"We've done all the work in a very difficult environment to deliver a very investable project, (including) bringing down the capital costs of first gas by half to what they were 12 months ago, to $450 million, which is huge," Bill Higgs, Ophir's chief operating officer, said.

(Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by Ed Stoddard and Jane Merriman)


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