Saturday 13 March 1999
Luckily for Enterprise Oil, it chose a day on which there was a general rally in the oil price to ditch the dividend. The price hit a four month high of more than $13 a barrel after a group of Opec and non Opec producers promised to turn down the gusher and reduce the flood of unwanted oil by two million barrels a day.
Not so long ago the oil price was submerged below $9 a barrel, so things seem to be looking up. All things are relative, however, and the fact is that Enterprise, in common with many others, is barely profitable even at $13 a barrel. Moreover, it cannot really rely on the big Opec producers to honour their pledges and bring supply closer to demand, least of all on the likes of Saudi Arabia, which is desperate for the cash.
But Enterprise has fall-back plan. It wants to merge with Lasmo, and thereby create one credible (and profitable) independent UK oil exploration and production group. Sir Graham Hearne, the Enterprise chairman, sees "significant synergies". The rest of the market is not so convinced and wonders why, if the advantages are so obvious, Enterprise and Lasmo are still trying to tie the knot two months after news of their discussions leaked.
There is of course, a history between the two. Sir Graham tried and failed to acquire Lasmo with a smash and grab raid in 1994, claiming haughtily that the time had come to sit at "the big boys table". His nemesis at Lasmo, Rudolph Agnew, is gone, but Joe Darby is still there as chief executive, so this time Enterprise's talking is being done by the rather more emollient Pierre Jungels.
He says he is personally convinced of the merits of a merger and promises an outcome to the talks by the end of this month. But it would be unwise to rely on an Enterprise-Lasmo merger, any more than Opec can be relied on to rescue the oil price.
- 1 School playground evacuated over 'unusually aggressive' grey squirrel
- 2 Hollywood actor Mickey Rourke beats opponent 33 years his junior in exhibition boxing match
- 3 Jennifer Lawrence scores first UK top 40 single with Hunger Games track 'The Hanging Tree'
- 4 Today was a bad day for renters, landlords, and democracy
At least 100 dead after Islamists launch attack on Nigerian mosque
Hollywood actor Mickey Rourke beats opponent 33 years his junior in exhibition boxing match
'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
Russell Brand: 'Katy Perry? I don’t know who that is'
Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
David Cameron sets out immigration reforms: We should distrust Ukip and their 'snake-oil of simple solutions'
Ukip mocked after mistaking Westminster Cathedral – for a mosque
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
iJobs Money & Business
Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: EAST ANGLIA - SENIOR SOLICITOR LEVEL ROLE** -...
£Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: Prestigious asset management house seeks a...
£Negotiable: Citifocus Ltd: This is a varied role focusing on the firm's mutua...
£90000 - £140000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you a high achievin...