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Greymouth Petroleum calls for ministerial intervention

JAZIAL CROSSLEY
Last updated 05:00 02/11/2012

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Energy Minister Phil Heatley has been called to sort out a stoush between Canadian Tag Oil and takeover target Greymouth Petroleum.

The two companies own adjacent wells at Taranaki and believe they could be drilling into the same hydrocarbon pool reservoir. Greymouth has three Ngataro wells bordering Tag's Sidewinder site.

The companies have been presenting conflicting information about it to the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment. Yesterday Heatley was called in by Greymouth as communication had broken down with Tag.

"In the event the minister intervenes, the first step will be to require both parties work together in the creation of a shared development scheme which is submitted to the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment for evaluation," a spokesman for the ministry said.

Meanwhile, Tag's bid of more than half a billion dollars for Greymouth has been laughed off by industry sources as "a complete joke".

Privately held Greymouth, which has 10 per cent of New Zealand's natural gas market, was in the High Court earlier this week as its majority shareholders Mark Dunphy and Peter Masfen fought its 14 per cent owner John Sturgess seeking full sale of the company.

Tag's $650 million bid was addressed to Greymouth's suspended chief operating officer Sturgess.

Greymouth is secretive about its balance sheet and the bid put a market value on it, potentially strengthening Sturgess' case for Greymouth to be sold, which Dunphy and Masfen have no interest in doing.

A source close to Greymouth said Sturgess had "played" Tag.

Yesterday morning, Tag backtracked in a statement saying the bid was merely an "expression of interest" that had been leaked.

Dunphy, Greymouth Petroleum's chief executive, chairman and majority shareholder, said he was puzzled by reports that Tag Oil has offered more than half a billion dollars for his business because it has not contacted him.

There were a few things "a bit extraordinary" about the reports, he told The Dominion Post, and he had no desire to sell.

TAG OIL

Based in Vancouver but 100 per cent of its interests are in New Zealand.

Reported production revenue of C$43 million for the year till March.

Operates Cheal and Sidewinder oil fields in New Plymouth.

Holds 20 per cent interest in the Kaheru Offshore joint venture.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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