Rockhopper Exploration plc (AIM: RKH), the oil and gas exploration and production company with key interests in the North Falkland Basin, is pleased to announce its audited results for the year ended 31 December 2019.

HIGHLIGHTS

Sea Lion Phase 1 development – project validated and de-risked through introduction of Navitas as joint venture partner

  • Detailed Heads of Terms signed with Navitas to farm-in for a 30 per cent interest in the Sea Lion project
  • Under the Heads of Terms, Rockhopper’s costs for the Phase 1 development (not met by external debt) are to be funded by Premier and Navitas from 1 January 2020 to Phase 1 Project Completion (estimated to occur 9-12 months after first oil)*
  •  Through the FEED and optimisation processes, the project has been substantially de-risked from a technical and cost perspective
  • Resources to be developed in Phase 1 increased from 220 to 250 mmbbls (gross) with associated capex to first oil estimated at approximately US$1.8 billion (gross)
  •  Public commitment that Sea Lion will be developed on a net zero emissions basis

Financial

  •  Revenue of US$10.3 million and operating costs US$4.6 million
  •  Cash operating costs of US$9.9 per boe – maintaining a low cost base
  •  Continued management of G&A costs – US$5.3 million – reduced by circa 30% in the last 3 years
  •  Cash resources of US$21.9 million as at 1 April 2020 (unaudited)

Corporate

  • Appointment of Keith Lough as Non-Executive Chairman following the retirement of David McManus at the Company’s AGM in May 2019
  • Ombrina Mare arbitration – in June 2019 the Tribunal rejected Italy’s request for suspension and related intra-EU jurisdictional objections
  • Disposal of Rockhopper Egypt Pty Limited for US$16.0 million completed in February 2020
  • Initiatives identified to further materially reduce corporate G&A costs in response to current market conditions

Outlook

  • Despite the current oil price weakness, all parties remain committed to the finalisation of the Navitas farm-out agreement with completion subject to agreed consents and approvals
  • In response to recent external events, cost reduction process initiated to scale-back headcount and activity at Sea Lion pending an improvement in the external macro environment
  • Outcome in relation to Ombrina Mare arbitration expected in the coming months – seeking significant monetary damages

Keith Lough, Chairman of Rockhopper, commented:

“In the first quarter of 2020, equity markets and oil prices have fallen significantly due to a combination of fears over the spread of COVID-19 and the impact this will have on the global balance of supply and demand for oil coupled with the recent inability of OPEC and Russia to agree on supply cuts.

Recent initiatives by the Company, including the sale of Rockhopper Egypt Pty Limited together with the legally binding Heads of Terms signed with Premier Oil place the Company in a relatively stable financial position with cash at 1 April 2020 of approximately US$22 million and with limited exposure to future development costs at Sea Lion.

We look forward to the finalisation and ultimate completion of the farm-out to Navitas which we believe validates the world-class nature of the Sea Lion asset and enhances, once the oil price and capital markets recover, the prospects of securing the requisite senior debt to allow sanction.

With a supportive interim ruling on jurisdiction, we are positive on the prospects of recovering significant monetary damages through our international arbitration against the Republic of Italy in respect of Ombrina Mare and look forward to an outcome in the coming months.”

*Excluding licence fees, taxes and project wind down costs

Enquiries:

Rockhopper Exploration plc

Sam Moody – Chief Executive
Stewart MacDonald – Chief Financial Officer
Tel. +44 (0) 20 7390 0234 (via Vigo Communications)

Canaccord Genuity Limited (NOMAD and Joint Broker)

Henry Fitzgerald-O’Connor/James Asensio
Tel. +44 (0) 20 7523 8000

Peel Hunt LLP (Joint Broker)

Richard Crichton
Tel. +44 (0) 20 7418 8900

Vigo Communications

Patrick d’Ancona/Ben Simons
Tel. +44 (0) 20 7390 0234

Note regarding Rockhopper oil and gas disclosure

This announcement has been approved by Rockhopper’s geological staff which includes Lucy Williams (Geoscience Manager) who is a Chartered Geologist, a Fellow of the Geological Society of London and a Member of both the Petroleum Exploration Society of Great Britain and American Association of Petroleum Geologists, with over 25 years of experience in petroleum exploration and management and who is the qualified person as defined in the Guidance Note for Mining, Oil and Gas Companies issued by the London Stock Exchange in respect of AIM companies.

The information contained within this announcement is deemed by the Company to constitute inside information as stipulated under the Market Abuse Regulations (EU) No. 596/2014 (“MAR”).

View full press release: Final Results for the year ended 31 December 2019