Providence Resources still hoping to receive $9m loan from Chinese partner

Protestor bids to disrupt Irish oil and gas exploration company’s meeting

Providence chief executive Tony O’Reilly junior.

Providence chief executive Tony O’Reilly junior.

 

Oil and gas company Providence Resources still hopes to get a $9 million loan from Chinese partner Apec Energy Enterprises despite a three-month delay in receiving the cash.

Providence investors backed plans on Monday to sell new shares in the Irish oil and gas exploration company to raise $3.76 million, a move on which the company decided after Apec last month missed a deadline to deliver the $9 million.

Tony O’Reilly jnr, Providence’s chief executive, confirmed at an extraordinary general meeting that the company would give Apec until close of business yesterday to deliver the cash.

The company is due to issue a further statement on Tuesday but did not confirm if the money had arrived.

Providence has given Apec several extensions, dating back to June, to forward the money.

The Irish company intends using the money to work on its Barryroe oil find off the south coast. Apec is its partner in the reservoir, which could produce almost 350 million barrels of oil.

Speaking after the EGM in stockbroker Davy’s Dublin office, Mr O’Reilly said Providence believed that Apec would deliver the money and blamed problems with bank transfers for the delays.

However, Mr O’Reilly indicated that should Apec’s loan ultimately not materialise, Providence would no longer be bound exclusively to the Chinese group.

“If the situation were to move to another phase, certainly there are other companies who would be interested in talking to us,” he said.

Shortly after the meeting formally ended, a protestor claiming to represent climate action campaign Extinction Rebellion interrupted shareholders from questioning Mr O’Reilly and other executives.

The protestor refused to identify himself beyond his first name, Fabian, saying he was “uncomfortable” with revealing his surname.

He warned that in a few years, shareholders’ children would be “going to school wearing gas masks” unless steps were taken to halt climate change. Security escorted the protestor from the premises.

Mr O’Reilly said Taoiseach Leo Varadkar should clarify his announcement that the Government would ban oil exploration off the Republic’s west coast, but searches for natural gas could continue.

The Providence chief noted that oil and gas were found in the same places. “That needs to be clarified,” he said.

He also said a ban could potentially create security of energy supply problems for Ireland, which relies heavily on natural gas to generate electricity.

The Government has told Providence that existing licences would be allowed continue to the end of their tenure. Some of those in which the company has a stake last until 2034.

Providence concentrates on exploring Irish waters for oil and gas, but Mr O’Reilly said he favoured looking elsewhere as well.

“We’ve seen in the last few months that our shareholders’ view is that they want us to focus on Ireland, but I think it would be good to go to other countries as well,” he said.