Tullow set for a green light from Uganda

HERITAGE Oil yesterday said it expects to receive approval from the Ugandan government for the $1.5bn (£960m) sale of its lucrative oil fields in the country to FTSE 100 oil explorer Tullow Oil.

“Heritage and Tullow are working closely with the Ugandan government to obtain the formal approval of the sale, which is expected imminently,” Heritage said, adding that it expects the deal to be fully completed within the first three months of the year.

Tullow is now the sole bidder in the running for the assets, after Italian firm Eni last week declared it had terminated its rival offer. Heritage had originally agreed to sell the fields to Eni before Tullow exercised a pre-emption right to buy them last month.

Tullow is currently locked in talks with both Chinese state oil firm China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and Total of France, as it moves closer to striking a secondary deal with a future development partner for the assets. The discussions are intended to appease Ugandan government concerns over a lack of competition in the market.

Tullow had originally intended to sell a 50 per cent stake in the fields to a single partner, though it is now thought to favour a three-way deal which involves both companies taking a stake in the venture.

If the Ugandan government gives the green light to the deal, Tullow will take over full ownership of three blocks of oil fields in the area around Lake Albert, on the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The entire area is thought to contain over 2bn barrels of oil.