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Cobalt (CIE) Seeks $2 Billion Arbitration for Angola Assets


Oil explorer Cobalt International Energy, Inc. CIE recently announced that it has filed for arbitration demanding over $2 billion from Angola’s state-owned oil company, Sonangol. The lawsuit pertains to Sonangol’s cancellation of an agreement to buyout Cobalt’s entire operated interest in two deepwater blocks followed by the uncertainty surrounding the deal that has jeopardized its efforts to find a buyer for the offshore blocks.

This apart, Cobalt has filed a separate request for arbitration for $174 million, alongside interest and costs. This arbitration pertains to the receivable from Block 21's operations.

Reason for the Lawsuit

In 2015, Sonangol agreed to acquire Cobalt's entire interest in blocks 21/09 and 20/11, offshore Angola, for $1.75 billion. The deal took a hit later, as the Angola government-owned oil and gas reserves managing company backed out of the agreement and Cobalt decided to sell the assets to a third party. However, the sale of the assets was negatively impacted by the ambiguity in extension of the licenses. Apart from Cobalt’s 40%, Sonangol and BP p.l.c. BP own 30% interest each in the blocks.

Cobalt's Angolan offshore assets have incurred a net loss of $2.3 billion along with impairment of the assets worth $1.69 billion.

The Angolan government is yet to comment on the request of Cobalt regarding the filing against Sonangol in excess of $2 billion, plus applicable interest and costs.

About the Company

Cobalt is an independent oil-focused exploration and production company with a robust world-class portfolio in the deepwater U.S. Gulf of Mexico and offshore West Africa. All of the company's prospects are oil-focused. The company is based in Houston, TX.

Zacks Rank and Stocks to Consider

Cobalt, which belongs to the Zacks categorized Oil and Gas – United States – Exploration And Production industry presently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in oil and energy sector are Penn Virginia Corporation PVAC and SunCoke Energy, Inc. SXC. Both of these stocks flaunt a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Penn Virginia’s year-over-year sales for the current year are expected to increase 24.75%. The company recorded a positive earnings surprise of 49.02% in the first quarter of 2017.

SunCoke Energy’s year-over-year sales for the current quarter are expected to increase 18.86%. The company had a positive earnings surprise of 120% in the first quarter of 2017.

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