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article in the age

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    Taxi! Range gets a fair go in PuntlandMARK HAWTHORNE
    December 15, 2009
    YOU have to admire some of those punters in Range Resources who just happened to get lucky again, this time thanks to a Melbourne cabbie.

    Range is the mineral explorer that struck a deal with the pirate state of Puntland in Somalia, and has been spruiking for a couple of years that it will deliver oil.

    Just how the company plans to sail its promised oil through seas patrolled by heavily armed pirates remains something of a mystery.

    There have been more downs than ups for shareholders, but times have been especially tough of late following a change of leadership in Puntland.

    In January, former La Trobe University PhD candidate and part-time Silver Top Taxis driver Abdirahman Mohamed Farole, 63, became president of Puntland.

    Farole, who has spent much of the past 10 years living in Melbourne's northern suburbs, has been critical of Range's dealings in his homeland, and the company's share price slipped on news of his election win this year. Until early last week, that is.

    About a million shares a day have been traded in Range over the past month, at about 3.5¢ a share.

    But the excitement began on Tuesday when about 11 million shares changed hands on one of the company's biggest days of trading this year.

    On Wednesday, trading volumes touched 5 million, with Range creeping up to 3.7¢ a share, before it was put in a trading halt on Thursday morning.

    The news? A peace deal has been struck with the former Melbourne taxi driver.

    The ASX was informed yesterday that Range, its joint-venture partner in Somalia, Africa Oil, and the Puntland state of Somalia have agreed to amend the terms of the existing production sharing agreements that were made for the Dharoor and Nugaal Valley exploration areas.

    In a nutshell, the exploration licences on those blocks were due to expire next month, but have been extended to January 2011. Africa Oil, which owns 65 per cent of the JV, will also be allowed to drill two exploratory wells. In return, Range and Africa Oil will return 25 per cent of the area they have rights to.

    Range soared 24 per cent on the news, opening at 4.6¢ a share, and an astonishing 49 million shares changed hands - the biggest single day of trading in Range since April 2007. It pays to listen to your cabbie.

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