April 09, 2008
Range Resources Limited, the oil and gas explorer with assets in Puntland, Somalia, have been made aware of a recent misleading and defamatory "news" posting on the website called Garoweonline, under the heading "Somaliland Minerals Minister Accused of Receiving Kick Backs". This article was attributed to the Somaliland Times. Puntland and neighbouring Somaliland are currently in a dispute over an area of land relating to short - term colonial borders as opposed to historic tribal areas.
In response to the various incorrect statements and claims made in this article, the Company would like to make the following specific comments:
• No Directors of the Company nor any Company representatives or employees have ever met the Somaliland minister referred to in the article (Qassim Yusuf) and no payments have ever been made to this person by the Company. Range’s oil and gas and minerals exploration interests and activities are solely in Puntland and, at this stage, the Company has no intention commencing any activities in Somaliland. The Company further notes that the Minister in question and another businessman referred to in the article have also denied the allegations and have stated an intention to commence defamation proceedings against the publisher;
• The article also make an incorrect reference to $2.5m and a further 17 monthly payments of $200,000 paid by the Company to the President of Puntland. The Company assumed the payment obligations to the Puntland Government under the original Contract of Work that was agreed to, and ratified by, the Puntland Parliament. The Puntland government has confirmed by written confirmation that all funds have been received under the Contract of Work.
• The reference in the article to $16.7m being paid by the Company to Puntland authorities is also incorrect. The Company, in accordance with its cash flow reporting requirements, disclosed the amount. Approximately two-thirds (2/3) of the funds referred to relate to payments by Range to acquire the remaining 49.9% of the original Puntland interest as approved by Shareholders (they are not payments to the Government).
• The article also incorrectly states, "the Puntland leader agreed that Range grant an 80% interest in the Nugal and Dharoor blocks to a new company called Canmex Minerals". The Production Sharing Agreements entered into between the Puntland Government, Range and its joint venture partner, TSX-listed Africa Oil Corporation (formerly Canmex Minerals) are unanimous Acts of the Puntland parliament.
• The Company categorically denies that it or any of its directors or employees have ever engaged in any criminal or dishonest activity as alleged in the article.
• The Company believes that the article is defamatory of both it and its directors and all appropriate legal avenues are currently being pursued.
As a general comment, the Company has in the past noted stories on this website that were factually incorrect but has not specifically responded to these stories. However, in this instance and given the proximity to the commencement of seismic and drilling activity in Puntland by the Company’s joint venture partner, Africa Oil, the Company believes it is appropriate to respond to the increasing volume of false and misleading statements being made by minority groups for their own political and / or commercial ends.
Shareholders should be aware that as the Company further progresses towards drilling at the project it may be subject to innuendo and false conjecture as to the status of the project. The directors advise that any shareholders who have concerns or queries relating to any media or web site article should contact the Company directly to allay their concerns about misinformation.
It is disappointing that the Company was not directly asked to clarify these issues.
Range, together with Africa Oil, is committed to the development of its assets in Puntland in a manner that provides tangible benefits to the region and its people as well as to shareholders.
Source: Oil Voice