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White Nile must provide another document to relist shares

4/13/2005 11:38am

By Simeon Kerr

LONDON, Apr 13, 2005 (Dow Jones) -- Shares in White Nile Ltd. (WNL.LN) will remain suspended until at least the last week of April as London's Alternative Investment Market has asked for the firm to provide more documentation, a top executive said Wednesday.

Andrew Groves, co-founder of the firm that hopes to develop a disputed oil tract in southern Sudan, says AIM asked White Nile last Friday to get southern officials to provide more information before the firm can relist.

"The exchange was very supportive, we just need another document," Groves told Dow Jones Newswires in a telephone interview from South Africa.

Groves, who declined to elaborate on the nature of the extra document, said he would hold meetings with officials from the soon-to-be-formed southern Sudanese regional government next Thursday and Friday in Nairobi, Kenya.

He hopes to relist the stock - suspended for two months after rising thirteen-fold on the south Sudan deal - once these meetings produce the final document required by the stock exchange.

This document will be included in the much-delayed information circular detailing the firm's southern Sudanese deal that White Nile has to distribute to investors before its shares reopen for trading.

The circular had been expected Thursday or Friday.

White Nile on Feb. 16 said it had an agreement with the government of South Sudan for a 60% stake in Block Ba, more than half of the huge Block B claimed by a consortium consisting of Total SA (TOT), Marathon Oil (MRO) and Kuwait Petroleum Corp. (KPT.YY)

Nile Petroleum Corp., the south's state-owned firm, holds the remaining 40%, and will take a 50% stake in White Nile once the stock relists.

Total executives say White Nile lacks the expertise and finance to exploit the potentially huge amounts of oil in the block. The French major also says the White Nile deal runs counter to January's peace agreement that ended two decades of north-south conflict.

Total is seeking to meet senior southern Sudanese officials over the next few weeks to press its case, but it has yet to secure a meeting with John Garang, who led the south's insurgency against the northern government and will head the south's autonomous government.

Groves said U.K.-based Exploration Consultants Ltd. estimates that raising 150,000 barrels a day of crude output in Block Ba would cost $120 million.

A $1.4 billion pipeline linking the southern oil fields to the Indian Ocean via Kenya would be funded through bank bonds once seismic surveys prove there are commercial quantities of crude oil in the block, he said.

South Sudanese foreign commissioner Costello Garang is scheduled to meet the press and White Nile investors next week in London.

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