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Ex-Cobalt executive may list Aussie shale explorer in U.S.

JAMES PATON

SYDNEY (Bloomberg) -- Tamboran Resources Ltd., an Australian shale explorer led by a former Cobalt International Energy Inc. executive, is considering going public in the U.S. as early as the second half of this year.

Tamboran is studying a reverse merger in the U.S., a deal that involves a private firm purchasing a public company to gain a listing, or an initial public offering in Singapore or Australia, Joel Riddle, CEO of the Sydney-based company, said in a phone interview. A share sale may raise about A$200 million ($187 million), he said.

“Right now the U.S. market is fairly attractive,” said Riddle, a former Exxon Mobil Corp. engineer who helped with Houston-based Cobalt’s 2009 IPO.

Tamboran plans to take advantage of its North American oil and gas experience to develop shale fields in Australia’s Northern Territory, Ireland and Northern Ireland as global energy companies seek to emulate the U.S. boom. The company’s deputy chairman is Richard Lane, a former executive at Houston-based explorer Southwestern Energy Co.

Tamboran also is in talks with Myanmar’s state-owned oil and gas company to help the country find and develop its unconventional resources and expects to begin a study in the next few months, Riddle said yesterday.

“That could be a real opportunity for the company in the 2015-2016 timeframe,” he said. “We hope the study will lead to something more formal.”

The company expects to complete a deal within 30 days to raise as much as A$20 million selling a stake to investors ahead of a potential IPO, he said. Tamboran also is considering raising funds by bringing in private equity groups or JV partners, he said.

If Tamboran opts to sell its shares to the public, that may occur between the second half of 2014 and the first half of 2015, Riddle said.

Tamboran expects to drill a well in Ireland in June or July and another well in the Northern Territory with partner Santos Ltd. in mid-June, he said. Gas from the Australian region could eventually feed a LNG plant in the Northern Territory capital, Darwin, he said.

ConocoPhillips operates the Darwin LNG project, and Inpex Corp. is building the Ichthys LNG plant nearby.

“There are a lot of competing resources” to supply LNG plants in Darwin, Mark Samter, a Sydney-based analyst at Credit Suisse Group AG, said today by phone. “We’re still in the early stage of knowing if the resources are there, let alone knowing the cost of transporting the resources.”

Santos agreed in December 2012 to buy a 14% stake in Tamboran for A$10 million and acquire as much as 75% of its Northern Territory shale permits.

04/17/2014

 

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