Juba, 7 May 2019: A team from Centurion Law Group (“Centurion”), Africa’s leading energy law firm, are in Juba this week having concluded a landmark oil deal in South Sudan. The team drafted, negotiated and advised on the Exploration and Production Sharing Agreement (EPSA) for the B2 Block signed this week between South Sudan and South Africa.
This is the second EPSA negotiated by Centurion in South Sudan since the country’s independence. Back in 2017, Centurion had advised and negotiated the EPSA of Oranto Petroleum for Block B3, currently under exploration.
Under the agreement signed on Monday in Juba, South Africa’s state-owned Strategic Fuel Fund (“SFF”) has taken operatorship of the highly-prospective B2 Block with a 90% participating interest while South Sudan’s state-owned company Nilepet is now holding the remaining 10%. Including an exploration period of six years, the agreement will see the SFF conducting a 10,000km2 aero gravity survey across what is believed to be South Sudan’s most promising oil block. The 120,000km2 B Block was split into three in 2012 and is likely to yield world-class discoveries in the near future.
Signed in presence of Hon. Jeff Radebe, Energy Minister of South Africa and Hon. Amb. Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, Minister of Petroleum of South Sudan, the EPSA demonstrates the success of South Sudan’s reforms to provide an enabling environment for oil investors and will be an additional pillar for the country to build long-lasting peace and prosperity for its people. Production is resuming fast in the country which currently produces 160,000 bopd and targets a production of 270,000 bopd by the end of the year.
Speaking at the ceremony, Hon. Amb. Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth highlighted the role played by Centurion in brokering this landmark deal for both countries, saluting all parties involved for the signing of an all-African deal set to transform South Sudan’s petroleum sector.
“This deal is what Centurion is all about, it is what we are geared for and it is what makes us tick,” says Centurion CEO NJ Ayuk. “We are an African firm and doing all-African deals on the continent by leveraging our deep expertise, our agility to be wherever our clients our need us and knowing how to get the job done. We have believed in South Sudan’s potential from day one and our work on this EPSA highlights the deep expertise that Centurion lawyers and advisors have built on one of Africa’s hottest onshore oil & gas frontier.”
As South Sudan boosts exploration and resumes production from its fields, Centurion will continue to advise investors on doing business in the country. There is considerable potential for more projects in South Sudan’s upstream, midstream and downstream sectors and we look forward to keep assisting all committed investors to come and do business in South Sudan.
“The interest for the acreages of Block B is considerable,” added Centurion’s Senior Associate Zion Adeoye. “We truly believe that further exploration of the Muglad Basin will yield results set to propel South Sudan’s oil industry towards new heights. The strategic importance of this agreement for South Africa’s energy security and South Sudan’s oil sector cannot be under-estimated.”
To advise on this agreement, Centurion mobilized a core team of attorneys and advisors led by CEO NJ Ayuk, including Senior Associate Zion Adeoye, Head of Trade & Commodities Zwelakhe Gila, and Associate Tsola Popo. The project will lead to investment into domestic capacity building and job creation for South Sudanese, and is part of an integrated plan that also comprises the building of a pipeline and a refinery.
As Centurion is headquartered in Johannesburg, and having exceptionally close ties in South Sudan, we were perfectly placed to assist the SFF from our offices in South Africa and carry that over to South Sudan seamlessly. It is a clear demonstration of our ability to leverage our gateway office, partner with our clients and deliver on a deal. Our team worked around the clock to get this deal off the ground, spending countless weeks on the ground in Juba and really understanding the context of the country and the specifics of their sector. Centurion’s value far exceeds just legal advice, but it was the advice on the big picture and the commercial realities that was stand out for the client. That, and Centurions grit and spirit to work on all-Africa deals and get the win for the client and the win for Africa.