Skyland thinks big

SKYLAND Petroleum executive chairman Dr David Robson told Energy News he isn't brave for working in the former Soviet republics, because if you're going to look for oil and gas why not look in one of the world's prolific regions?
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Dr Robson has been plying his trade as a geologist in the region since the earliest days of Glasnost, and while few may have heard of the autonomous Sakha Yakutia Republic in Eastern Siberia he believes it is there Skyland, one of the newest publicly traded oilers on the Australian Securities Exchange, believes it can make its fortune.

The company back-doored into a former media company trading in the earlier this year with a modest mix of assets, but with big dreams, and they are just starting to come to fruition.

"I have worked in that part of the world since it was the USSR in the late 1980s, initially through a company called Humble Brothers, a US independent that was eventually bought out by BHP Petroleum, and for a while I worked for them and then I set up on my own in 1992-93," he reminisced.

"It was one of those things that once I knew the area I never got out," he said.

Dr Robson has worked from the Arabian Gulf, the Ukraine, and down to the Caucuses and Central Asia into Siberia for decades, and even spent some time in the Sakhalin region.

Massive potential

He believes in the massive oil and gas potential that is just starting to be opened up in eastern Siberia and the opportunities it offers.

Skyland has put together an initial position in Georgia and Tajikistan, and is now seeking to build a position in Sakha Yakutia where it is seeking to finalise entry into the Mirninsky block, where there is significant proven potential.

The company originally looked at another project, but found the grass was greener on the other side of the paddock fence, and it has been able to secure an even more attractive block next door on more favourable terms.

It is finalising a deal to secure Mirninsky from a local firm, Yatek, for $US100 million ($A132 million), or less than $0.40 per barrel of oil equivalent.

The block contains four discovered fields, some modest production and a number of undeveloped discoveries and exploration upside.

Yesterday the company completed due diligence and determined Mirninsky contains P50 reserves of 76.8 million barrels and 453.7 billion cubic feet of gas for the Machobinskoye and Nelbinskoye fields, with P50 contingent resources of 34.8MMbbl of oil and 339.6Bcf associated with the North Nelbinskoye and Mirninskoye discoveries and a number of unnamed discoveries containing an estimated 91.4MMboe.

The block is favourably located near the Eastern Pacific and Power of Siberia export pipelines that have helped open up the area, while the 1Bbbl Srednebotuobinskoye field is just to the south.

"The reservoir here is a very simple, sandstone reservoir at 2000m. The oil is sweet light crude. One of the fields is on test production, so it is effectively a producing property in an area of massive potential for the future," Dr Robson told Energy News.

"When I first started looking at eastern Siberia in the 1990s they had made some good discoveries, however there was no way to get your oil out, but in the past few years they have built oil pipelines to the Pacific Ocean to supply Japan, South Korea, and China, and for some reason New Zealand, and the Power of Siberia gas pipeline is being developed.

"We are not by ourselves either, there are fields being developed by BP, Rosneft and Gazprom, but we are the only independent working in that whole region."

Skyland has a signed sales and purchase agreement and wants to close the deal by the end of the year, although funding is likely to be an issue.

If successful it would give Skyland immediate production that can be quickly ramped up to 800bopd as the current owners have not invested much in recent years.

Beyond that, Skyland believes it can develop up the project so it is earning $100 million per annum in profit by 2019 and $400 million per annum by 2021.

"Phase two would be to significantly boost production, and the Russians have very nicely built and all weather road to help with that," Dr Robson said.

For all its icy reputation, he said the company does not expect too many weather woes in Siberia.

The company's other interests are the Kyzyl-Tumshuk project (50%) in Tajikistan, which is now producing from a shallow Paleocene oil and gas field that was originally developed between 1959 and 1983 and has seen no modern technology.

Skyland has also made a small gas discovery in Georgia's Block XIG (20%) in the Kura Basin.

Risks

A few Australians have gone into the Former Soviet Union in recent years, but few have escaped with their skins intact.

"The trick in his area is to stick to doing what you say," Dr Robson explained.

"If you make a promise, you do it. And if you can't, if you are honest they will understand, but if you hide a problem and string them along then you will get into trouble.

"And you also need to make sure all of the necessary documents are signed and stamped and have gone through the right approvals processes, because a lot of companies have been persuaded to short circuit the approvals, and in the end that comes to bite them.

"If you follow the rules and you are honest and you will be fine. I have not had a project in Russia with a problem caused by the government or partners."

Exchange

Skyland elected to list on the ASX compared to a different exchange such as London's Alternative Investment Market because Dr Robson feels it offers a more robust reporting system for oil and gas companies.

"I'm a geologist, and the reporting and regulatory environment around and oil and gas or regulatory company is crucially important," he said.

"There are only two exchanges around the world that spend a lot of time and effort making sure things are done properly are the Toronto and Australian stock exchanges."

Skyland is focused on the wider Asia-Pacific market, and the investors for that tend to be based in Hong Kong and China, and are investors are comfortable with the Australian regulatory framework.

"I know it is a long way from Dubai or Eastern Siberia, but it's just a flight, and the timezones are the same with our projects and Hong Kong," he said.

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