24/09/2009 - 00:00

Shell gets Cool in Nido deal

24/09/2009 - 00:00

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WEST Perth company Cool Energy is planning to press ahead with development of its innovative gas field technology after a major ownership and board restructuring.

Shell gets Cool in Nido deal

WEST Perth company Cool Energy is planning to press ahead with development of its innovative gas field technology after a major ownership and board restructuring.

Shell Technology Ventures Fund 1, an investment fund majority-owned by oil and gas giant Shell, has become Cool's major shareholder after buying out all but one of the previous investors.

The exiting shareholders include Nido Petroleum, which disclosed in its half-year report that it sold its 25.7 per cent Cool stake for $1.04 million.

That values Cool at about $4 million, well below the amount that has been invested in the company since it was established by Curtin University in 2003.

The ownership change has had one adverse consequence.

In April, Cool was awarded a $1.6 million R&D grant under the federal government's Climate Ready program, but the ownership change meant it was not eligible.

Cool's plans to commercialise its innovative technology, which is used to capture and store carbon dioxide from natural gas, have also been dented by the global financial crisis.

Cool had previously announced agreements with Cooper Basin-focused gas producer Drillsearch, Indonesian oil and gas company Pertamina, and Brisbane-based Greenhouse Gas Storage Solutions.

Newly appointed general manager Martin Wilkes said these agreements were currently dormant.

The company's intention was to continue its R&D program, which included more testing at its demonstration plant at the Xyris gas field near Dongara.

Xyris is operated by Australian Worldwide Exploration, which bought one of Cool's early backers, West Perth-based Arc Energy.

Mr Wilkes said Cool's longer-term goal remained to commercialise the technology.

"Nothing has really changed, there is just a recognition that its going to take longer than they would have thought a few years ago," Mr Wilkes told WA Business News.

As a result of the ownership changes, Nido chairman Bill Bloking has resigned as Cool chairman and Jessie Inman has resigned as managing director.

Cool's new chairman is Phil Harvey, who was AlintaGas chief executive from 1994 to 2001, and is chairman of LNG Ltd and a board member of the WA Energy Research Alliance.

Mr Wilkes has 20 years' oil and gas experience with Shell and Woodside, and was previously Cool's business development and projects manager.

The Shell Technology Ventures Fund originally invested in Cool in 2005, when it pumped $4 million into the fledgling company in return for a 15 per cent shareholding.

Earlier this year it offered to buy all outstanding shares in the company.

All shareholders accepted the offer, with the exception of the Centre for Energy and Greenhouse Technologies (CEGT) Fund, managed by Melbourne-based Cleantech Ventures.

CEGT instead exercised its right to buy additional equity from other shareholders, including Nido.

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