White Nile to start drilling wells

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The Independent Online

The Oil producer White Nile yesterday said it is to begin drilling a minimum of two exploration wells in Southern Sudan early next year, sending its shares up 3 per cent.

The AIM-listed company, which is chaired by the former England cricketer Phil Edmonds, has been in conflict with Total over its 67,000 sq km flagship oil project Block Ba in the country. The French giant continues to claim exploration rights in the region, citing an agreement with the Khartoum government.

However, White Nile is supported by the government of South Sudan, which owns almost 50 per cent of the company.

White Nile yesterday said full year pre-tax losses widened to £1.42m compared with losses of £394,039 a year ago, but said it is now well positioned to achieve its objectives.

Mr Edmonds, who owns a 4.6 per cent stake along with co-founder Andrew Groves, said stability has increased in the region following the signing of a peace agreement between the north and south at the beginning of last year.

The business partners managed to raise £12m to finance White Nile's drilling programme this month despite the dispute with Total, which looked for oil in Sudan in the early 1980s but pulled out in 1985 after the outbreak of civil war.

"Early results from Block Ba are very exciting and with further development I believe that we can significantly de-risk the project and therefore increase shareholder value," Mr Edmonds said. The company's shares increased 3 per cent or 3p to 116p, valuing White Nile at £376m.

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