Mazarine and Ramphastos in Het Financieel Dagblad

Dutch investors acquire license to drill for oil in Tunisia

Jan Verbeek, Amsterdam

A group of Dutch entrepreneurs including well-known investor Marcel Boekhoorn and former Argos Director Peter Goedvolk have acquired an official license to drill for oil on Tunisian ground.

A member of the group signed the official license agreement for the Zaafrane oil field on Tuesday night. The Dutch investors work together on this project with a Tunisian partner, Medex, an oil company. Medex holds a majority share.

The Dutch group has just completed seismic research in within the license area. The first well will be drilled early next year.  Investment in this first phase amounts to approximately $50 million. The Initiator of the project, a third participant, is the Dutch entrepreneur Edward van Kersbergen. This former Shell engineer brought together a group of moneyed investors with a special interest in oil and gas exploration and development. Boekhoorn, who made his fortune in part through the sale of mobile operator Telfort to KPN and Van Kersbergen have worked longer together. In November the entrepreneurs closed a deal with Kenda Capital, an investor in new energy technologies. Van Kersbergen says he has been in business contact with Goedvolk for a number of years. Van Kersbergen will not disclose details of the participants’ respective investments in the project.
Van Kersbergen recently founded the independent oil and gas company Mazarine Energy in The Hague. The company recently acquired the license in Tunsisia and is aims to further develop the oil field.  The region spans 5000 km² and is situated near producing oil fields near the Tunisian border with Algeria.

Van Kersbergen: ‘It’s been established that there’s oil here. But is it commercially interesting to extract the available reserves? We hope that we can do so by applying the latest technologies.’

The license in Tunisia is good for one year and contains option to extend by one more year.  Should the license area prove to contain extractable reserves, the revenues will be shared equally by the license holder (Mazarine Energy) and the Tunisian government.

Van Kersbergen has been active in the development and deployment of new extraction techniques. He was in the news last June when he sold his share in a Scotland-based international energy consultancy, Xodus Group, for a large sum to a Japanese concern. Two years prior to the sale, Van Kersbergen took a majority share in the company, where he served as Executive Director.

The entrepreneur has invested the proceeds from the sale of shares in Xodus Group, estimated in the tens of millions of Euros in investment vehicles focused on the exploration and development oil fields where development proves challenging.  Van Kersbergen expects to announce the acquisition of a license for a similar project. The only detail he has shared is that the field is located outside of Africa.

This is a translation of the Dutch-language original in Het Financieele Dagblad, 12 February 2014. © Het Financieele Dagblad.