Smaller Companies: Russian link breathes new life into Aminex
Tuesday 31 August 1993
The company has, in effect, exchanged its dream ticket from American gold to Russian oil.
Its surprising emergence as a potentially powerful player in the struggling Russian oil industry has lifted the shares from 4p in January to 52p. They are now 41p on the Dublin exploration share market, something akin to the late lamented Third Market.
At one time called Eglinton Exploration, it had a ragbag of resource interests, with gold mining in Nevada as a main activity. In the heady 1980s, when almost any Irish mining stock attracted an often frantic following, Eglinton hit 240p.
But, like so many others, it failed to last the pace and by the time Brian Hall arrived as chairman in 1991 the shares were in the doldrums and friendless. He changed the name and concentrated on oil and gas exploration.
Deals were fixed up. But clearly it was going to be a long hard slog before Aminex, with more than 7,000 shareholders, would recapture even a suggestion of past excitement.
Then came the Russians. They had seen Brabant as their quoted resources vehicle. But the company lost its independence and Aminex suddenly found itself with an intriguing and aggressive new shareholder, East West Oil.
In Dublin the message was received and understood. East West had Russian links. It is now owned by Titan Assets, which has Russian shareholders, and Zarubezhneftj, a state-owned Russian oil operation.
The rumoured movements of Mr Hall, a well-regarded figure in the oil industry, were the subject of intense speculation as Aminex shares enjoyed their dramatic resurrection. Stories about meetings in Russia kept the shares moving. In fact Mr Hall is due to make his first visit to Russia next month.
East West added fuel to the speculation by steadily increasing its Aminex shareholding to 35 per cent. And then came confirmation that the tiddler had elbowed aside the oil giants and could be a leading beneficiary of any Russian oil revival. Alexander Sarukhanov, a 44-year-old oil engineer and deputy director- general of Zarubezhneftj, joined the Aminex board.
The once burnt-out Irish star is expected to start work soon reviving some of the neglected oil wells in Siberia and does not believe it will encounter too many difficulties transporting the stuff to thirsty economies.
The Russian oil industry, prosperous a few years ago, is now in a sorry state. Production has slumped, reflecting lack of investment and the sheer disorganisation stemming from the break-up of the Soviet Union.
Why have the Russians descended on a tiddler? It is Aminex's modest size, a mere Ir pounds 10m, that prompts many to question whether it will ever deliver any Russian oil.
Mr Hall believes the Russians picked Aminex because of its proven ability to run oil operations and the tight controls introduced in the past few years. But he realises they can exercise much more influence at Aminex than they could if they had chosen a much bigger partner.
Current thinking is that Aminex should sign letters of intent giving it participation in some Siberian wells in a few weeks. But the oil may not be flowing for more than a year.
Aminex shares have been inspired by the pounds 1.5m Russian involvement. But they still have a long way to go to reach the giddy heights achieved in the 1980s and restore the faded investments of small shareholders attracted by earlier prospects.
Mr Hall and Aminex have stolen a lead on the rest of the industry. But they will need to draw heavily on the support of their new-found Russian friends.
And Aminex shares? For a time at least the action could be more subdued.
As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”
- 1 Mother fed her daughter tapeworms to make her skinny for beauty pageant
- 2 Crystal Palace next manager latest: Palace consider Ally McCoist - EXCLUSIVE
- 3 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 4 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 5 Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'
'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
West poised to join forces with Assad in face of Islamic State
Pamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals: 'Mice had holes drilled into their skulls'
James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – as hunt begins for killer
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £27000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst - (Active Di...
£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...
£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...