Friday, December 7, 2012

GeoGlobal’s Jean Paul Roy, who part-owns GSPC blocks, has a history of controversies

GeoGlobal’s Jean Paul Roy, who part-owns GSPC blocks, has a history of controversies
Roy, who speaks French, Spanish and English, is regarded by friends as a man with an eagle eye for discovering oil as well as people who matter.
Roy, who speaks French, Spanish and English, is regarded by friends as a man with an eagle eye for discovering oil as well as people who matter.

Jean Paul Roy, a Canadian geologist who lives in Guatemala and drives around in a Scorpio, has been a bee in Narendra Modi's bonnet long beforeArvind Kejriwal discovered him and alleged the scientist made billions overnight thanks to sweetheart oil and gas deals with the Gujarat government.

Actually, Roy has been embroiled in several disputes with state authorities, particularly after he publicly questioned Modi's dramatic announcement in 2005 that Gujarat State Petroleum Corp's (GSPC) field in the KG Basin held an astonishing 20 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas. Roy, a 10% partner in the block and a seasoned geologist who has explored hydrocarbons in 30 countries, quickly responded saying Modi's claim was premature.

Relations between the two partners have been troubled since then, and GSPC wrote to the oil ministry two years ago saying it wants to terminate the partnership with GeoGlobal.

Roy's company has questioned some costly drilling by the state firm, which has spent $2.5 billion but is five years behind schedule in developing the field.

"Roy impressed GSPC, and the company decided to partner with his consulting venture that was to be listed later in America. Like CairnBSE -0.15 %, Roy also had ambitions to list his venture in India. But everything changed in 2005," says a senior GSPC official who did not want to be named.

Roy, who speaks French, Spanish and English, is regarded by friends as a man with an eagle eye for discovering oil as well as people who matter. Former ONGCBSE -1.04 % chief Subir Raha was on GeoGlobal's board till his death two years ago. Earlier, the company had appointed Avinash Chandra, former director-general of hydrocarbons, a director.

Roy's innings in India began as a technical advisor to Canadian company Niko Resources, which was exploring the Hazira offshore field in partnership with GSPC. He also advised, say his associates, Niko during the discovery of the D6 Block, now controlled by Reliance IndustriesBSE -0.33 % and BP.

But his luck seems to have suddenly run out. He has diluted his majority stake in GeoGlobal Resources, although he still holds 5% interest in the KG Basin block.

GeoGlobal Issued Delisting Notice in US

The NYSE-listed Canadian company holds another 5% in the block. GeoGlobal is also in trouble with the stock exchanges. On Tuesday, NYSE issued a delisting notice to the company as its shares have traded at an average price of $0.11 and its performance has not been good. The exchange said the firm's listing would be predicated on either better performance or a "reverse stock split".

A close associate of Roy said the 56-year-old feels his contribution to GSPC's success has been overshadowed by other events. He has had differences with financiers and shareholders, and even his own employees are disgruntled.

After resigning from GeoGlobal Resources in February, Roy has been living in Guatemala, where he drives a green Mahindra Scorpio that he fondly imported from India. He refuses to appear before media to face questions and didn't respond to ET's emailed queries.

However, Roy still wants corrective action taken in the development plan of Deendayal Block, where GSPC has pumped in almost $2.5 billion and not produced any gas, says his former associate and friend.

"Roy feels he is too small to change the perception of the Indian media and public. Among the international energy players, only CairnBSE -0.15 % has been successful in India while the rest are biting the dust," says his friend, who closely worked with him on discoveries in Deendayal and Tarapur blocks that are yet to deliver any significant crude and natural gas production numbers.

GeoGlobal's oil and gas sales for the nine months ended September 30 stood at $3,79,000 compared with $4,46,000 for the corresponding period in 2011. The company statement on its last financial result attributes this to lower oil and gas production combined with a decrease in average prices. Its share price is at an all-time low.

A graduate in geology from St Mary's University of Nova Scotia, Roy has explored almost 30 countries, including India, Bangladesh, Ukraine, Cuba, Nigeria, Venezuela, Ecuador, USA, Korea, Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, China, Peru, France, Yemen, Algeria and Canada since 1981. He boasts about 30 proprietary publications.

In 2003, GSPC submitted a bid for the exploration block in the KG Basin jointly with GeoGlobal Resources and Jubilant Group. The private firms held 10% each while GSPC took 80%.

Industry officials said the partnership was forged to undertake the exploration risk. GeoGlobal had an arrangement - termed a common international practice by industry officials - under which a partner's equity contribution is made later from the share of oil and gas from the fields.

In early 2005, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi shocked the energy sector with the announcement of the discovery of 20 TCF gas in the Deendayal Block and claimed GSPC will commence production in 2007. This did not go down well with Roy whose only hobby is to build and interpret geological models. GeoGlobal Resources promptly filed a clarification with the American stock exchange and called Gujarat government's claim premature.

"GSPC, which had earlier agreed to carry forward GeoGlobal Resources' interests, now started demanding payments for the investments in Deendayal Block. GSPC also stopped sharing information of exploration activities in the block," says the former associate, claiming that GeoGlobal wrote countless letters and emails to GSPC requesting for settlement and information. He also claimed that GSPC deviated from the technical advisory given by GeoGlobal. Subsequently, the demands from GSPC kept rising in tandem with the investments in the offshore block.

On the other hand, Roy kept losing the faith of investors and financers, and issued new shares to raise funds. His Indian team members too started leaving for greener pastures. In August 2010, he lost control overGeoGlobal Resources and left the board of the company.

As GSPC kept delaying the deadline for commercial production from Deendayal Block, its partners GeoGlobal Resources and Jubilant Group suffered financially. According to industry sources, Jubilant Group too wants to exit the Deendayal Block. In his last interaction with ET in October, GSPC MD Tapan Ray expressed the hope that commercial production from the block would commence anytime next year.

Roy began his career with Petro Canada, where he taught himself to interpret data to produce geological models for blocks in Africa, America and Europe. Later, he spent a couple of years with Canadian geophysical software solutions provider GEDCO. This assignment gave him exposure to several blocks in Russia, Canada, Chile, Colombia and Yemen. Later, US company Eurocan appointed him chief geophysicist.

Source : MITUL THAKKAR,ET BUREAU 

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