HDR hardman resources limited

hdr-wpl, mauritania

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    An article from todays West Australian newspaper, virtually second hand news

    African coup fear slashes oil shares
    By Michael Weir

    SHARES in Woodside Petroleum, Hardman Resources and Roc Oil - all partners in the $1 billion Chinguetti oil development in Mauritania - were slashed yesterday after an attempted coup in the north-west African Islamic nation.

    Perth-based Hardman, a 21.6 per cent partner in the 100 million barrel discovery, saw its shares slump 5¢, or almost 9 per cent, to 53¢ as investors were spooked about the ramifications of any potential sovereign risks.
    Woodside, the operator and 35 per cent partner, fell 18¢ to $11.40 while minor partner Roc lost 2¢ to $1.13.
    But Woodside played down fears that the development would be affected by the civil unrest.
    A Woodside spokesman said the project, off the coast of Mauritania, remained on track to get the final investment green light in the middle of next year.
    There were reports of street battles at the weekend, but residents of Mauritania's capital city, Nouakchott, were reported to be celebrating yesterday after loyalist troops crushed an attempted coup against pro-Western President Maaouiya Ould Taya.
    The attempted coup was launched amid heightened tensions in the Sahara desert country of 2.7 million people, many of them nomads, where the pro-Western position of Mr Ould Taya's government has stirred popular resentment.
    The uprising followed a government crackdown on Islamic activists since the US-led Iraq war, initially to try to prevent any shows of support for Saddam Hussein.
    Mauritania's government has a reputation of muzzling dissent, by censoring the media or by arresting opposition leaders.
    The Woodside spokesman said a drilling program, including a Chinguetti development well and two exploration wells at nearby targets, was planned for later this year.
    "We will look over that in the next few weeks to see if there are any changes needed to that timetable," he said.
    "But at this stage we don't see any impact on the final investment decision, due mid-next year."
    Chinguetti contains between 100 million and 125 million barrels of oil and first production, at a daily rate of 75,000 barrels, is due in late 2005.
    The other partners in the international consortium are Italian energy giant Agip (35 per cent) and the UK-listed Fusion Oil (6 per cent).
    Meanwhile, Woodside said the $1.5 billion Enfield development on the North-West Shelf remained on track with the company committing $88 million to front-end engineering and decision work.
    A final investment decision on a 100,000 barrels a day project for Enfield, which contains an estimated 145 million barrels of oil, is due in the second quarter of next year

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