Beef tycoon Larry Goodman’s bid to have an examiner appointed to Barryroe Offshore Energy (BOE) is being pitched on the possibility that the oil and gas explorer could move its focus to green energy projects, according to an independent expert’s report linked to the petition.
Mr Goodman’s Vevan Unlimited, which owns almost 20 per cent of BOE, filed a request last Friday for the High Court to appoint an examiner appointed to the company.
The move came three days before shareholders were due to vote on putting the company into liquidation after Minister for the Environment Eamonn Ryan refused to grant a permit for its key Barryroe oil project off the Cork coast.
Mr Justice Michael Quinn is scheduled on Monday to hear the petition to secure court protection for BOE from its creditors in order to restructure its finances. Kieran Wallace, managing director of Interpath Advisory in Ireland, is being proposed as the examiner.
BOE, which is running out of cash, had recently been seeking to secure fresh funds from big shareholders to keep the company running in order to pursue a legal case — by way of a judicial review — against the Minister.
The independent expert’s report, which must offer an opinion that a company has a reasonable prospect of surviving as a going concern, does not explore the possibility of potential legal action, with its attendant risks.
However, the report, written by Damien Murran, head of Teneo Ireland’s corporate restructuring practice, said that an examiner could explore “what recourse [if any] the company may have regarding existing or expired exploration licences”.
“Vevan sees a future for the company by reducing its focus on the fossil fuel industry and possibly pivoting the business towards green energy projects,” it said.
Mr Goodman’s company has committed to funding BOE through an examinership period and engaging with the examiner “to formulate an offer of investment in the company”, the report said.
A recovery plan for BOE “will require a recapitalisation of the equity structure of the company, with the introduction of new equity fund and/or a change of ownership”, it added.
The examinership process that Mr Goodman is looking to use for BOE was established under emergency laws originally enacted in the summer of 1990 to save the businessman’s beef processing empire from collapse.
“Vevan is of the view that the [BOE] could develop its business model based on green energy and securing energy which benefits from lower CO2 emissions,” the report said. “Within companies connected to Vevan are divisions focused on sourcing and developing green energy projects that align with the broader group’s mission which could assist with the realignment of [BOE’s] model.”
Over €270m gone
Mr Murran added: “In working with Vevan in preparation of my report, I understand it believes that there is opportunity in the Irish market across the green energy agenda and, if appropriate green energy opportunities can be identified, there is real potential to grow the company’s business in the Irish market.”
BOE has burned through more than €270 million of cash raised from share placings over the past 12 years. Barryroe was the last remaining exploration hope.
The prospect, 50km off the Cork coast, was found more than a decade ago to have more than 300 million barrels of oil as well as gas resources. BOE saw three development partnership deals fall through over the period.
The company said on June 8th that it was down to its last €176,000 of cash reserves. Mr Murran estimates that its funding needs for a 100-day examinership period could be about €838,000.
The author of the report said that he is satisfied Vevan has the means to fund BOE through the process, given Mr Goodman’s company recently provided a €40 million facility to the explorer to carry out a phase of work on Barryroe.