In January 2002 the UK DTI awarded licenses to restart production from the UK's oldest offshore oilfield, Argyll, to two relative newcomers to the market - Tuscan Energy and Acorn Oil and Gas. The deal is one of the flagships of the UK government's fallow fields initiative and the newcomers' success is symptomatic of the development of small, niche, oil and gas exploration/extraction start-ups spawned by mega-mergers at the oil majors in recent years.
The face of the oil and gas business has changed. The oil and gas acquistions market has been frenetic over the past few years. Typical of the movement is ENI acquiring Lasmo who in turn acquired Monument. The combination of market consolidation, restructuring, advances in extraction technology and the political will to extract from what were fallow fields in areas like the North Sea and stranded reserves, have spawned some relative newcomers.
Acorn, Ramco. Tuscan, Eclipse Energy, Venture - all have been founded by ex-oil/gas major staff. Acorn, for example, is run by Mark McAllister, formerly of Lasmo and Monument. Similarly Tuscan is the brainchild of an ex-Atlantic Power crew - Dave Workman, Doug Elsby, Ken McHattie, Paul Schofield and Joanne Harris - which was bought by Petroleum Goe Services in 1998 for £63 million.
All the newcomers are niche. All are pushing the boundaries in terms of technological innovation. All are run by management/owners with a long track record in oil and gas at the majors. And all are looking for innovative funding.
Although some banks like JP Morgan Chase have pulled...
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