Texans and Australians join London oil and gas bonanza

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The Independent Online

The investment boom in oil and gas exploration companies continued yesterday, with a Texan business raising £25m in London to fund projects in Iraq and Syria and an Australian company listing on the City's junior market.

The investment boom in oil and gas exploration companies continued yesterday, with a Texan business raising £25m in London to fund projects in Iraq and Syria and an Australian company listing on the City's junior market.

Global Petroleum, which trades on the Australian stock exchange and has interests in the Falklands, has taken a joint listing on London's Alternative Investment Market (AIM) and began trading at 66p a share, making the company worth more than £100m. It has a 16 per cent share in Falkland Oil and Gas, which listed in London in October, raising £12m, as well as interests in Kenya. Its shares closed at 44.5p, giving it a market capitalisation of £74m.

Gulfsands Petroleum, based in Houston, Texas, said yesterday it had raised £25m through a share placing with institutional investors. It plans to float on AIM in early April and may be worth up to £130m. Its exploration interests are in the Gulf of Mexico, Syria and Iraq, where it is hoping to secure a contract with the oil ministry to capture natural gas produced as waste from oil production. Seven directors will share about £3m from selling shares in the company, but management will retain a significant stake.

John Dorrier, the chairman and chief executive, said: "We have a portfolio of assets generating cash flow and exploration and development assets with potential. The IPO will help unlock that potential."

In the past year commentators have likened speculative investments in the oil and gas sector to the dotcom bubble in 2000. Around £600m has been raised in the past year by oil and gas minnows. White Nile, an African oil speculator founded by the former England cricketer Phil Edmunds, saw its shares rise 11 fold after listing on AIM. Little more than a cash shell, its shares have been suspended pending a potential acquisition in Sudan.

Falkland Oil and Gas has seen its shares rise 140 per cent since listing.

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