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Madagascar Oil SA (a subsidiary of Madagascar Oil Limited, Bermuda) is a Malagasy company, founded by Robert Nelson as Chairman of the Vuna Group of companies after an introduction from Sam Malin, with the former becoming its founding President and Sam Malin the first Managing Director. Originally called Vuna Oil and Gas Limited, Madagascar Oil focuses on the development, exploration and production of petroleum. It is the principal onshore oil company in Madagascar in terms of oil resources and land. It holds the large heavy oil fields of Tsimiroro and Bemolanga. It operates the former, whilst its farm-in partner, French supermajor Total S.A. operates the latter.
Europeans found the Bemolanga field in the 19th century and the Tsimiroro field in the early 20th century. However, the extensive oil seeps associated with both fields had been known to the local Malagasy population for centuries. During the 20th century various colonial and later overseas companies looked at the fields but never moved beyond initial exploration.
Sam Malin became aware of the fields in 1994. It took him nearly ten years to find financial partners to start an in-depth appraisal and ultimately development of the fields. As a result of his finally succeeding in his quest for such backing, Madagascar Oil was created in 2004.
Tsimiroro is a heavy oil field (14° to 16° API) which is reported to hold, in terms of a best estimate of reserves (oil in place), 3.9 billion barrels (620,000,000 m3) with potential for light oil and natural gas. Madagascar Oil holds a 100% interest in the field and is working on a steam flood pilot project as well as continuing drilling operations to expand the proven reserve base. The start of the steam flood pilot project is planned for late 2011. Tsimiroro is believed to be able to achieve at least 80,000 barrels (13,000 m3) to 100,000 barrels (16,000 m3) of oil output per day over 35–40 years. First production was realised in March 2008, a year when a total 2,000 barrels (320 m3) were produced.
Bemolanga is a large ultra heavy oil field (8° to 13° API) holding a potential resources of 16.6 billion barrels (2.64×109 m3), with approximately 2.5 billion barrels (400,000,000 m3) of recoverable reserves. Madagascar Oil and Total intend to set up a production pilot ahead of rolling out a full scale development (with a price tag of $8–10 billion). If development is successful, Bemolanga is expected to produce 180,000 barrels (29,000 m3) of oil per day for at least 30 years. Appraisal and planning work began mid-2009, while the development project is planned for 2013, split Madagascar Oil 40%:Total 60%.
The company's more than 37,000 km2 (14,000 sq mi) (9.1 mn acres) of acreage is also prospective for light hydrocarbons and includes a number of historic discovery wells. In addition to the Tsimiroro and Bemolanga blocks, which, in addition to the known heavy oil, have potential for light hydrocarbons, the company holds three exploration blocks: Manambolo, Morondava and Manandaza. Work undertaken for the company by Weiman Geoscience in 2007 points to the strong existing potential and mapping the potential fairways in each of Madagascar Oil's blocks. On Madagascar Oil's blocks, examples include Manambolo West 1, drilled in 1987 and which flowed 15.6 million cubic feet (440,000 m3) per day on a drill stem test as well as the Manadaza well drilled in the early 1990s that flowed 41° API light oil. Analysis of the data from the 2009 seismic survey defined potential reservoir structures that of over 1.0 billion barrels (160,000,000 m3) in size.
Madagascar Oil's projects are governed by production sharing agreements signed with OMNIS, the relevant Malagasy government agency, in 2004. These agreements give the Government of Madagascar a significant stake in future production.
Ownership and management
Madagascar Oil is a public company listed on the London AIM exchange. In 2010 it raised £50 million in its IPO to finance a pilot project in the Tsimiroro Field. Major shareholders include Blakeney Group, the John Paul DeJoria Family Trust, MSD Capital, Outrider Master Fund, Persistency Group, Plainfield, RAB Capital and Touradji Capital Management.