It ain't easy being junior

PENNY-PINCHING investors are starting to impact junior explorers, according to Magnum Gas & Power managing director Trent Wheeler.

Bianca Bartucciotto
It ain't easy being junior

“It’s very hard, the market is just not flowing through,” Wheeler told EnergyNews.

Trying to get funding as a junior is always difficult, but at the moment the market is not performing as it should be for them to grow into mid-cap companies.

“We’re even reviewing our strategy from where it was late last year,” said Wheeler.

“This is not just me saying it, we’ve got a number of advisers around us and a number of old heads and this is where it’s cyclic. It’s happened before, it’s not new.

“The reasons for it might be different but it’s not new, we’ll come back out of it.

“But this is one of the worst one’s that has been around for a very long time.”

Wheeler tipped an upcoming period of mergers and acquisitions.

The company has a two-tiered approach to expansion. But one of those tiers was knocked out from beneath the company with the New South Wales government’s kneejerk reaction to CSG.

Magnum sits on a coal tenement surrounded by Dart Energy, Santos and AGL Energy, which falls within the government’s new no-go zone for being within 2km of a densely populated area.

The area has a resource of 2.6 trillion cubic feet of gas in place.

Too bad the company can’t touch the stuff.

However, the company’s other approach may see it hailed a raging success.

It has a strong coal bed methane resource, a relatively risk-free working environment and strong energy demand − in Botswana.

The company has six blocks in an area surrounded by Origin Energy, Sasol, Exxaro and Anglo.

It has a contingent 2P resource of 152 billion cubic feet and a range of off-take potentials.

Wheeler said Botswana could become a net exporter of energy, despite being landlocked. And he believes his company is poised to cash in on the coming boom.

“We don’t have pipelines criss-crossing the country like we usually do for off-take.”

But Wheeler said there was existing infrastructure waiting for the energy.

And the country is set to suffer from an energy crisis. Wheeler said 80% of the country’s power was being imported from South Africa, but was eventually cut off.

“So they found themselves not having the domestic power supply that they needed.

“They’ve put in some infrastructure for the short and medium term… but they still won’t meet the base load demand.

“Power generation is being supplied by diesel at the moment.”

This leaves electrical utilities, mining and industrial users, and gas-to-liquids plants all vying for a limited energy supply.

The country has experienced a boom before, with diamond exploration, which led to a brain gain into Botswana.

With the country looking for a new revenue raiser, coupled with the skills and expertise and an increasing energy demand, rapid production of energy resources seems to be the natural step.

CBM exploration in Botswana is still in the exploration phase but could rapidly move into production, with the help of a responsive government.

Wheeler said any of the preconceptions of a “corrupt Africa” did not apply to Botswana.

“It is a very lovely sovereign environment to be working in.”

The tribal mentality of the country allows for in-depth, considered discussion of the issues and works on the basis of consensus. Wheeler said it was a slow process, but transparent.

With all the factors in place, it seems as though there is not too much that could stand in Magnum’s way – apart from raising funds.


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