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Oil exploration firm looking to East

PUBLISHED: 09:06 02 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:31 06 July 2010

A new oil exploration company founded by two former Petrofac managers has won exploration rights at two sites in Malaysia.

In a deal signed in Kuala Lumpur, Nio Petroleum, based in Norwich, was awarded two blocks off the coast of Sabah, Borneo, in partnership with the Malaysian nationalised oil firm Petronas and Swedish firm Lundin.

A new oil exploration company founded by two former Petrofac managers has won exploration rights at two sites in Malaysia.

In a deal signed in Kuala Lumpur, Nio Petroleum, based in Norwich, was awarded two blocks off the coast of Sabah, Borneo, in partnership with the Malaysian nationalised oil firm Petronas and Swedish firm Lundin.

The British and Swedish firms each have 42.5pc of the deal, with Petronas the remaining 15pc, as part of a production sharing contract.

Work investigating the sites, which cover an area of 6,230sqm as already begun, said chief executive Richard Hall.

Oil has been found at the site and the partnership's job is to find ways of getting it out and developing the field.

The firm's niche is opening up dormant discoveries of oil and gas and redeveloping mature, previously developed fields, said Mr Hall.

“We set up the business to try and create value from difficult, technically difficult, old oil and gas fields,” he said.

“Our niche is to get monetisation where larger companies cannot cope with it. We use our own specialisms, like designing rigs, in house but contract out other work.”

Following the Mayalsian deal, the firm has just opened an office in Kuala Lumpur and will be opening another in Bangkok.

It has recently had talks with the authorities in Vietnam over possible access to fields there, further growing the business.

“We just want to build it,” said Mr Hall. “We hope to float it in three to four years.

“It would be great to have a British company specialising in overseas development. All the Brits focussed on the North Sea.

“But there is a new generation out there.”

Through Petrofac and Acteon Mr Hall has already worked in south east Asia and is keen on the area's links with the UK, especially Norfolk. Lotus Racing's F1 team is funded by a Malaysian partnership, for example.

Nio was founded a year ago by Mr Hall and Rory Edwards, former vice presidents at Petrofac Energy Developments.

Mr Hall, who has lived in Norwich for 20 years, had also worked with UWG, now Acteon, where he was a founder director with Mark Boyd and Richard Higham.

Mr Edwards has been based in Great Yarmouth and lives in Suffolk.

Stewart Maxwell, also ex-Acteon, is the firm's engineering manager and will be working from Kuala Lumpur.

Technical director Quentin Rigby, originally from Bury St Edmunds, will be based in Bangkok for the firm. Their chairman, Meb Somani, previously worked for Shell in Lowestoft.

The new firm is based in Prince of Wales Road and has backing from Barclays Natural Resource Investments.


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