Complex Tangguh partnership spat triggers lawsuit

Talisman Energy Inc. will challenge CNOOC Ltd. in a Texas court over the Chinese firm's 17% stake in the $5 billion Tangguh project, which is expected to begin commercial LNG production in 2008-09.

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, June 14 -- Talisman Energy Inc. will challenge CNOOC Ltd. in a Texas court over the Chinese firm's 17% stake in the $5 billion Tangguh project, which is expected to begin commercial LNG production in 2008-09.

Talisman has filed papers in the 68th district court in Dallas on behalf of its Paladin Resources unit in a case involving a 1968 agreement between Independent Indonesian American Petroleum Co. and Warrior International Corp., a company that was later merged into Talisman.

The agreement contains an "area of mutual interest" clause, stating that any partner who acquires an exploration interest in Indonesia, "must offer the other parties" a participating share.

Warrior International in 1984 merged with Warrior Oil Co., which was acquired by Paladin Resources PLC in 1999. Talisman bought Paladin Resources in 2005 for $2.5 billion. Paladin Resources (Sunda) Ltd. then changed its name to Fortuna Resources (Sunda) Ltd.

IIAPC's interest in the original agreement was acquired by YPF Maxus Southeast Sumatra BV, a unit of Spain's Repsol YPF SA, and in January 2002, CNOOC paid $585 million to Repsol YPF SA for oil and gas fields in Indonesia.

Talisman's unit claims it retains rights and CNOOC has obligations that have survived the corporate mergers and transfers of the parties' interests since the original IIAPC-Warrior contract was signed.

In May, Indonesian state-owned banks, Bank Mandiri and Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI), were seeking to join a new syndicate of lenders that intend to fund the remaining $884 million construction costs for the $6.5 billion LNG plant being built at Tangguh. The final tranche awaited what one banker called "government-level negotiations" over the sale of Tangguh gas to China (OGJ Online, May 11, 2007).

Partners in the Tangguh LNG project are BP 37.16%, CNOOC 16.96%, MI Berau BV (a joint venture of Mitsubishi Corp. and INPEX Corp.) 16.3%, Nippon Oil Exploration (Berau) Ltd. (a JV of Nippon Oil Exploration and JOGMEC) 12.23%, KG Berau-KG Wiriagar (a JV of Kanematsu Corp., JOGMEC, and Mitsui & Co.) 10%, LNG Japan Corp. (a JV of Sumitomo Corp. and Sojitz Corp.)7.35%.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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