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KrisEnergy fights debt load to keep Cambodian oil project on track

Company focusing 'all resources' on achieving first production in the country

KrisEnergy says it is determined to keep its project in Cambodia on track. (Photo courtesy of KrisEnergy)

PHNOM PENH -- Singapore-listed KrisEnergy is fending off creditors on multiple fronts as the upstream oil company fights to keep its Cambodian ambitions on track.

The company told shareholders that it will appear in court in Singapore next Monday to request a second three-month extension to a debt moratorium. The moratorium has been in place since August, when KrisEnergy began efforts to restructure its debt load, which stood at $476.8 million as of last year.

Meanwhile Rubicon Offshore International, a Singapore-based offshore oil field service company, this month filed a statutory demand in the Cayman Islands against KrisEnergy's Thai subsidiary seeking $2.84 million.

The demand stems from a 2014 dispute over additional costs incurred from the chartering of a Rubicon vessel. Rubicon has threatened to present a winding-up petition against the subsidiary should it not receive payment.

KrisEnergy told the Nikkei Asian Review that it will "defend the claim vigorously." A U.K. commercial court last year found in Rubicon's favor in a case related to the matter.

The company's financial woes come as it pushes ahead with work on realizing Cambodia's long-held ambitions to produce oil from its Apsara oil field.

Despite the added financial pressures, KrisEnergy said it will "continue to focus all operational resources into the Apsara development."

In November, the company ordered a so-called minimum facilities wellhead platform for its Cambodian project from Indonesia's Profab. In January, it announced Dutch offshore survey services provider Fugro had been hired to carry out a geotechnical survey at the site.

KrisEnergy's vice president of investor relations and communications Tanya Pang said the contract for a drilling rig was expected to be awarded by the end of the first quarter.

"We continue to schedule first oil for mid-2020, however, we are in close contact with all equipment/material suppliers regarding delivery times and any potential delays due to manufacturing disruption as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak," Pang said, referring to the coronavirus outbreak that began in China.

The concession -- known as Block A -- is estimated to have some 30 million barrels of recoverable oil reserves.

The company forecasts the first stage of the project will yield about 8,000 barrels per day of crude and some 8.5 million barrels over its lifetime. Additional phases would follow.

While focusing attention on Cambodia, it has also moved to sell assets elsewhere. In November, it announced the sale of its 30 percent interest in the Andaman II production sharing contract in the Malacca Strait, off Indonesia to BP.

It has also this month announced it would farmout 100 percent of its working interest in Vietnam's Block 115/09 to a major international oil and gas company for a nominal cash consideration. The name of the company was not disclosed.

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