UK energy company pulls out of North Korea

By Michael Rank

Independent British energy company Aminex PLC has withdrawn from North Korea, citing ‘”the volatile and unpredictable politics of the area”, just two years after signing a deal covering a 50,000 sq km area off the country’s east coast.

Aminex said it was “in the best interests of shareholders for the Company to withdraw from the Korean exploration programme and not participate in seismic acquisition. This decision will allow Aminex to focus on growing its African portfolio.”

The company first signed an agreement for co-operation in oil and gas with the North Korean government in 2004, but this failed to make progress. In 2010 it introduced a new foreign partner, Singapore-based Chosun Energy Pte Ltd, which provided finance for the initial stages and a regional base in Singapore. Aminex said at the time that “despite challenging international politics,” it had “succeeded in maintaining strong relations with the Korean authorities”, resulting in the production sharing contract signed in May 2010.

But industry sources said Stuard Detmer, who was made Aminex CEO last September, was less enthusiastic about North Korea than his predecessor Brian Hall, who remains executive chairman, and this had contributed to the company’s decision to pull out of the DPRK.

Aminex’s main focus is now on Tanzania, where in February it made the first gas discovery in the onshore Ruvuma basin, having also disposed of an oilfield in Texas.

Aminex said in 2010 that the agreement “involves reprocessing and reinterpretation of old seismic data plus acquisition of new marine seismic data during an initial period. Licence holder] Korex believes that the East Sea has great potential for significant discoveries of oil and gas, while recognising the political challenges in the region and the need to ensure that any international sanctions are strictly observed.”

See previous posts about Aminex here.

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