BYE-BYE, BPC: Lombard Odier reportedly ditches £11M stake in Bahamas oil exploration project

BYE-BYE, BPC: Lombard Odier reportedly ditches £11M stake in Bahamas oil exploration project
Bahamas Petroleum Company's (BPC) oil rig. (FILE PHOTO)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — As The Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) undertakes a “reset” and changes its name to Challenger Energy Group, PLC, one of its financiers has reportedly divested itself entirely of its stake in its Bahamas oil exploration project.

According to a Responsible Investor report, Lombard Odier Investment Management (LOIM) has divested an £11.25 million stake in the company’s Bahamian oil exploration project, which found no commercial quantities of oil in its first exploratory well.

Back in February, Lombard Odier, a Swiss private bank, in a brief response to Eyewitness News’ inquiries on its funding of BPC’s oil drilling activities, said: “We regret this situation and are taking the necessary actions to address it. This investment decision was not aligned to our commitment to sustainability and our strategic investment framework.”

Lombard Odier’s involvement in the project was seen as controversial due in part to its reputation as a sustainability leader.

BPC recently announced that Simon Potter, the company’s CEO since 2011, will step down effective May 20, but will remain on the board of the company in the capacity of non-executive director and provide ongoing support to BPC’s executive team.

Eytan Uliel, the company’s commercial director since 2014, will replace Potter.

The company also indicated that it is pursuing a US $9.6 million capital raise through a proposed open offer to existing ordinary shareholders of approximately 1.967 billion shares at a price of 0.35 pence per share on a one new share for every 2.46 shares held basis.

While BPC’s first exploration well did not result in the discovery of commercial quantities of oil in The Bahamas, it has indicated that it intends to exercise its right to renew four of its licenses, which will allow for another three-year period for oil exploration.

The company also noted that various environmental groups have been granted leave to apply, amongst other matters, for a judicial review of the government of The Bahamas’ decision to issue environmental authorization for the drilling of the Perseverance #1 well.

“The company has been joined as a party to that action,” the company noted.

“In order for the applicants to continue to pursue this action, the Supreme Court of The Bahamas had ordered that by March 31, 2021, the applicants were required to post the sum of $200,000 as security for costs.

“Thus far, the applicants have failed to do so, albeit the applicants have asserted that they have secured access to the funds to enable them to do so, and a process is ongoing to establish an appropriate joint account between the company’s and the applicants’ legal advisers for deposit of those security funds, consistent with common practice in The Bahamas,” BPC told investors.

Environmental opponents have reportedly secured security for costs, with the matter set to resume in court today.