Jump to content

Pharos Energy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Soco International)

Pharos Energy Plc
Company typePublic company
IndustryOil and Gas Exploration
Founded1997 as Snyder Oil Corporation International
FounderEd Story
HeadquartersLondon, England
Key people
John Martin, Chair
Ed Story, CEO
RevenueDecrease $167.9 million (2023)[1]
Decrease $(18.1) million (2023)[1]
Decrease $(48.8) million (2023)[1]

Pharos Energy Plc, previously SOCO International, is an oil and gas exploration and production company, headquartered in London. The company changed its name to Pharos Energy Plc in October 2019 after coming under fire for illegal activity in Virunga.[2]

The company is listed on the London Stock Exchange and currently has interests in Egypt, Israel and Vietnam.[3] The company previously held interests in the Republic of Congo and Angola.[4] Pharos Energy no longer holds interests in Africa, and their strategy now focuses on interests in the Middle East and Asia.[5][2]


In April 1997, the company was founded by Ed Story and was first listed on the London Stock Exchange in May that year.[6] Ed Story has been CEO of Pharos Energy PLC since it was established.[7]

During 2010, the company aimed to derisk 600 million barrels of potential net recoverable reserves with a drilling programme focused in Vietnam and the Democratic Republic of Congo.[8]

In 2014 the company explored for oil in Virunga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the DRC, and attempted to bribe and intimidate people who opposed their efforts.[9][10][11] Following international pressure they agreed to suspend further exploration.[12]

On 16 October 2019 the company announced that it had changed its name to Pharos Energy plc.[13]

On 17 October 2019, Pharos Energy plc announced the appointment of John Martin, to succeed Rui de Sousa as Non-Executive Chair following his retirement.[14]

Current operations[edit]


Pharos has been active in Vietnam since 1996 and currently has two oil and gas producing blocks in the country: Block 9-2 of the (Ca Ngu Vang field) and Block 16-1 of the (Te Giac Trang field).[15]

In May 1999, the Group signed the petroleum contract for Block 16–1 in Vietnam and the Block 9-2 petroleum contract was signed a year later in 2000.[16]

In 2002, the Group farmed out 50% of its Vietnam interests to PTT Exploration and Production Co. (PTTEP). In the same year, the Ca Ngu Vang (CNC) Field from Block 9-2 was discovered.[16]

In 2005, the Te Giac Trang (TGT) Field was discovered in Block 16–1.[17]

In 2020, Pharos announced that evaluation of the offshore Phu Khanh basin blocks 125 & 126 would continue, though planned 3D seismic work would be deferred, possibly until 2021.[18]


In September 2018, the Company reached an agreement to buy Merlon Petroleum El Fayum Company and 100 percent of the El Fayum concession, completing the acquisition in April 2019.[19]

In 2020, Pharos announced plans to evaluate the North Beni Suef concession and to target CO2 emission reduction at the El Fayum concession.[3]


In October 2019, Israel's Energy Ministry granted Pharos, along with Cairn Energy and Ratio Oil, eight offshore exploration licenses for offshore blocks.[20]

Previous operations[edit]



In 1998, production in Tunisia commenced from the Didon field until the company let go of its Didon/Zarat interests in Tunisia in 2004.[21]


In 2008 the company agreed to sell its operations in Yemen to Sinochem for $US465 million.[22]

Sub-Saharan Africa[edit]


From July 2007, SOCO held a 17% interest in Cabinda Onshore North Block, in the North Congo Basin, onshore western Cabinda in Angola.[23][24] In 2016, the company sold its Angola interests to Quill Trading Corporation and WMLC Resources for US$5 million.[25]

Congo Brazzaville[edit]

The Group entered Brazzaville, Congo, following the signing of the Production Sharing Agreement in Block Marine XI in 2006.[26] In February 2016, the company started drilling the Baobab Marine-1 well in the Mer Profonde Sud block offshore the Congo Brazzaville – Marine XI. The well targeted gross prospective recoverable resources of 330 million barrels of oil.[4][27] In 2018, the Company sold its interests in Congo Brazzaville for $US10 million to Coastal Energy.[25]

Democratic Republic of the Congo[edit]

SOCO's operations in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in the Onshore North Congo Basin commenced in 2013 with a short bathymetry study of Lake Edward and ceased in August 2014, in accordance with its June 2014 public commitment.[28][29]

In 2012 SOCO began to explore for oil in the Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is home to 200 of the remaining 700 endangered mountain gorilla.[30] SOCO said it was not drilling for oil and had no plans to drill.[31][32] Drilling was strongly opposed and condemned by the World Wide Fund for Nature. In 2010 SOCO received a Presidential decree from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to explore for hydrocarbons in Block V, in the southern Albertine Graben, onshore eastern DRC. Block V encompassed an area of the Virunga National Park, a World Heritage Site, including a part of Lake Edward. SOCO had advised that Block V was not located close to the Mikeno Section, which is home to the mountain gorillas.[33]

In January 2011 SOCO employees allegedly forced their way into the Park, resulting in the conservation head of the park and several international agencies declaring their intention to bring lawsuits against SOCO. SOCO's share price subsequently fell.[34] SOCO's Deputy Chief Executive Officer Roger Cagle said at the time that "The forcible entry is blatantly false." Cagle said SOCO was with a provincial member of parliament and had permission to enter the park.[34]

In September 2011 former Minister Jose Endundo passed an order giving SOCO the authorisation to conduct the evaluation of hydrocarbons in the context of the Strategic Environmental Evaluation.[35]

In June 2014, SOCO signed a joint declaration with the World Wildlife Fund, saying it would not drill in Virunga "unless UNESCO and the D.R.C. government agree that such activities are not incompatible with its World Heritage status".[36][37] However, SOCO did not immediately relinquish its operating permits or commit to an unconditional withdrawal..."They’re leaving the door open," said Zach Abraham, director of the World Wildlife Fund's global campaigns.[38] They at the time supposedly told the government they were planning to stay in the hope that the park borders would be changed.[11]

In a statement, Ed Story, SOCO's chief executive in 2017, said: “Hopefully we can all get back to activities focused on both people and the environment where it does the most good for a place that we think can have a better future.”[39]

By July 2018, the group no longer held any African investments besides Egypt.[5][25]



In 2005, the company sold its Mongolian assets to PetroChina Subsidiary, Daqing Oilfield Limited Company.[40]


SOCO began the first production of oil from the Bualuang Oil Field in Thailand in 2008.[41]

In 2010 the company agreed to sell its Thailand assets to UK listed Salamander Energy for $US105m.[42]


  1. ^ a b c "Annual Results 2023" (PDF). Pharos Energy. Retrieved 27 March 2024.
  2. ^ a b "Soco International Investors Approve Pharos Energy Name Change". MorningstarUK. 16 October 2019. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  3. ^ a b Deduleasa, Anamaria (11 March 2020). "Pharos targets emissions reduction plans in Egypt, defers Vietnam work". Upstream Online. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  4. ^ a b "SOCO commences drilling from Congo well – News for the Oil and Gas Sector". Energy Voice. 8 February 2016. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  5. ^ a b Marshall, Steve (2 July 2018). "Soco in Angola exit". Upstream Online. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  6. ^ "PHAROS ENERGY PLC London Stock Exchange". www.londonstockexchange.com. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
  7. ^ "PHAROS ENERGY PLC: Shareholders Board Members Managers and Company Profile". www.marketscreener.com. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
  8. ^ SOCO International launching major oil exploration programme Stockopedia 17 May 2010
  9. ^ "Congo's former president awarded oil block in UNESCO heritage site". Reuters. 27 February 2019. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  10. ^ Vidal, John (9 June 2015). "UK oil firm 'paid Congolese officer who offered bribe to Virunga park ranger'". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  11. ^ a b "Bribery scandal forces UK oil firm to abandon Congo oil block". Kaieteur News. 13 November 2019. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  12. ^ Vidal, John (11 June 2014). "Soco halts oil exploration in Africa's Virunga national park". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  13. ^ Change in Registered Company Name Company Website 16 October 2019
  14. ^ "Pharos Energy Picks Chair After Changing Name From Soco; COO Departs". MorningstarUK. 17 October 2019. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
  15. ^ "Time to Buy SOCO International PLC After Today's Huge Decline? | Wallstreet.org". Archived from the original on 10 March 2016. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
  16. ^ a b "SOCO scores success offshore Vietnam". www.offshore-mag.com. November 2005. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  17. ^ "Test confirms 'major oil field' off Vietnam". www.ogj.com. 28 April 2006. Retrieved 10 September 2020.
  18. ^ "Pharos targets emissions reduction plans in Egypt, defers Vietnam work | Upstream Online". Upstream Online | Latest oil and gas news. 11 March 2020. Retrieved 10 September 2020.
  19. ^ Deduleasa, Anamaria (20 September 2018). "Soco buys Merlon in $215m deal". Upstream Online. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  20. ^ "Israel grants two groups offshore exploration licenses". Reuters. 28 October 2019. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  21. ^ "SOCO Sells Tunisian Assets". www.gulfoilandgas.com. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  22. ^ Pharos agreed to sell Yemen ops to China's Sinochem for $US465 million Forbes, 2 April 2008
  23. ^ "SOCO Moving Ahead in West Africa". 4 September 2007. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
  24. ^ "SOCO International plc 18.8% Potential Decrease Indicated by Barclays Capital". DirectorsTalk Interviews. 9 February 2016. Archived from the original on 16 September 2017. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  25. ^ a b c "Soco International exits Africa. Focus solely on Vietnam". Offshore Energy. 2 July 2018. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
  26. ^ "Republic of Congo approves Soco's Marine XI block award". www.offshore-mag.com. 5 April 2006. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
  27. ^ "SOCO Drilling Baobab Marine-1 Well in Search of 330 Million Barrels". 8 February 2016. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  28. ^ "Press release". WWF. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  29. ^ "Joint Statement by SOCO International PLC ('SOCO') and WWF" (PDF). 11 June 2014. Retrieved 29 September 2022.
  30. ^ "DR Congo blocks Soco from oil search in Virunga park". BBC News. 18 March 2011. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  31. ^ "Soco International feels wrath of media". bdlive.co.za. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  32. ^ "Soco International Oil Exploration in Democratic Republic of Congo Sanctuary Opposed By British". HuffPost. Reuters. 25 September 2012. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  33. ^ "Block V and the Virunga National Park". Socointernational.co.uk. Archived from the original on 30 January 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
  34. ^ a b "Congo Wildlife Authority Presses Charges Against Soco". Bloomberg L.P. 17 February 2011. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  35. ^ "Ministry of the Environment" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 September 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  36. ^ "UNESCO commends the decision by SOCO to halt oil exploration activities in Virunga National Park as a step in the right direction". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
  37. ^ "Oil company Soco not to drill in Virunga World Heritage Site". wwf.panda.org. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
  38. ^ Gettleman, Jeffrey (15 November 2014). "Oil Dispute Takes a Page From Congo's Bloody Past". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  39. ^ "British oil company SOCO agrees to cease operations in Congo's". The Independent. 11 June 2014. Archived from the original on 26 May 2022. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  40. ^ "Soco Sells Mongolian Assets to PetroChina Subsidiary". www.rigzone.com. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  41. ^ Gas, Egypt Oil & (4 September 2008). "First Oil From Bualuang Field in the Gulf of Thailand". Egypt Oil & Gas. Retrieved 10 September 2020.
  42. ^ "Salamander buys Thai unit from Soco". Financial Times. 20 July 2010. Archived from the original on 11 December 2022. Retrieved 16 September 2020.

External links[edit]