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Chariot Sticks to Namibia Oil Search After Failed Wells

Chariot Oil & Gas Ltd. (CHAR), a U.K. energy explorer in Africa, said it’s continuing to search for oil in Namibia even after competitors failed to find crude.

“The nature of exploration is portfolio management; not everything is successful,” Chief Executive Officer Larry Bottomley said today in an interview. His company has slumped 35 percent this year in London trading, tumbling 18 percent on one day in February after abandoning a well in Namibia.

“Investors are turning away but the industry is not,” Bottomley said in Cape Town.

Namibia has attracted attention from the world’s biggest oil companies even after 18 wells in past decades failed to find commercial deposits of crude. Explorers such as BP Plc and Repsol SA have snapped up assets on a bet that the nation’s coastal shelf may mirror that of Brazil across the Atlantic.

Chariot holds licenses in eight blocks in the southern African country. It plans to bring in a partner and a rig to continue exploration, according to Bottomley, who took over as CEO last December.

The company will also seek a partner for its Mauritania block, where it plans to drill in 2015, he said. Chariot will decide where to drill in the C-19 Block in the first quarter, according to Bottomley, who estimates the cost of the well at $85 million to $200 million depending on its depth and location.

Chariot, the operator of the offshore block with a 55 percent stake, is already working with Cairn Energy Plc (CNE) at the site. Cairn, with a 35 percent interest, has a rig that may speed up the timeframe for drilling, Bottomley said.

The West African country also has attracted Tullow Oil Plc and Total SA as explorers move farther north up Africa’s Atlantic coastline after making discoveries in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast.

Chariot, based on Guernsey in the Channel Islands, also has stakes in projects in Morocco and Brazil.

To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Burkhardt in Johannesburg at pburkhardt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Viljoen at jviljoen@bloomberg.net

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