Tunisian update and formation of Technical Panel

Upland is an upstream oil & gas company whose highly experienced management team has a track record of creating major value for shareholders in junior oil & gas companies, including Cove Energy plc. The Company has extensive technical and commercial skills and contacts, management having held senior roles in Petronas, Conoco, Shell etc.

Upland Resources Limited (LSE: UPL), the oil and gas company actively building a portfolio of attractive upstream assets in proven, mature African and Asian basins with a focus upon Tunisia and Sarawak, Malaysia, is pleased to report the following from its activities in the Tunisian Saouaf licence area (‘Saouaf Permit’) where the Company is currently engaged in a Joint Venture with the Tunisian National Oil Company (‘ETAP’):


  • Formation of Technical Panel to provide project governance, technical oversight and guidance to all exploration and appraisal activities. This panel will also assess and review potential value-adding acquisition opportunities already identified.
  • Appointment of Mr. Roberto Bencini as a member of the Technical Panel which reports to the Upland Board of Directors. Roberto is a founder of GA.I.A. srl (‘GAIA Consulting’) and is an accomplished consultant to the energy sector with vast experience in Tunisia and North Africa with a proven record of successful oil discoveries. 
  • Further appointments to the Technical Panel are pending and are to be advised in due course. 
  • Transformational work programme to commence in Saouaf beginning with reprocessing of existing ETAP seismic data to allow planning for a subsequent, more concentrated data acquisition campaign aimed at providing an inventory of prospects for future drilling. This entire work programme and development of technical data is expected to substantially increase value and strengthen options ahead of engagement with industry farm-in partners. 
  • Indications of a working petroleum system characterized by both oil and gas migration with multiple existing leads and potential prospects have been further augmented by additional desktop studies. 
  • A working petroleum system in the Saouaf licence area has been further indicated by the oil recorded in the Bahloul interval during the drilling of the SNJ-1 well with numerous Cretaceous oil seepages reported. 
  • Current oil price environment providing significant opportunity to acquire interests in additional assets upon attractive terms and a number of potential assets are currently under consideration or evaluation including well intervention / drill-ready candidates and existing production.

Following the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on travel and working conditions in both the United Kingdom and Tunisia, Upland has focused a great deal of time in developing its geological understanding of the Tunisian region especially with regards to existing data for the Saouaf Dekrila-1 well and seismic database together with more regional information. This exercise has improved the Company’s early understanding of the Saouaf Permit and has increased Upland’s overall expectation of the regional prospectivity.

As a result, the Company has decided to establish, in the form of a Technical Panel, a core area of expertise especially with regards to its activities in Tunisia. This Technical Panel reports to the Upland Board of Directors and has been adopted as part of the Company’s organisational structure in order to provide project governance, technical oversight and guidance to all exploration and appraisal activities in Tunisia in addition to assessment and review of other potential North African value-adding acquisition opportunities already identified and currently under consideration and evaluation with Non-Disclosure Agreements. 

In respect of the newly formed Technical Panel, Upland is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Roberto Bencini, who successfully advised Petroceltic International Plc (formerly LSE: PCI) in 2004 during Algeria’s 5th International Licensing Round, later resulting in the discovery of the giant Ain Tsila gas-condensate field (538 million BOE recoverable reserves) in the Illizi Basin, south east Algeria, to the Panel. Roberto Bencini, founder of GAIA Consulting, has a wealth of oil and gas experience and knowledge in the region including being part of the expert teams behind several large commercial discoveries in Libya and Algeria in similar geological settings to the Saouaf Permit and other areas of interest to Upland in Tunisia. Roberto’s expertise will be invaluable to Upland in developing opportunities in Tunisia where Upland may plan to make further license applications or acquisitions, thus fast-tracking the company’s North African oil and gas interests.

As part of its Tunisian work programme, the Company’s work plans will be intended to integrate geology, geophysics and geochemistry in order to complete a sound geological model of the subsurface of the Saouaf license area. The technical work plan includes selecting existing seismic lines for test reprocessing, which may also indicate prospective new plays in the region. This will be a precursor to further more focused seismic and drilling activity, which will give core data for marketing to strategic industry partners.

Upland CEO Chris Pitman commented:

“The formation of our Technical Panel is a major step forward in Upland’s ability to manage and capitalise on all our exploration and appraisal activities. I would firstly like to welcome Roberto Bencini, on behalf of all directors and shareholders, as the first external member of Upland’s Technical Panel. This Panel will report directly to the Company’s Board of Directors and Roberto’s significant regional experience will be invaluable to Upland as we bring these highly prospective yet underexplored licences through the development curve. Roberto, as one of the primary consultants behind our original Sarawak evaluation and work programme submission is well known to us.

In recent months we have focused upon analysing geological data for Saouaf, which we know holds an abundance of diverse leads and prospects from small gas fields, oil finds waiting to be appraised, to entirely new plays consisting of large gas or gas-condensate fields. These potentially game-changing opportunities range from low-risk, low capex opportunities to high-potential, high-impact wildcats capable of attracting the attention of large industry players. 

The Saouaf Permit is showing good indications of a working petroleum system further augmented by our recent studies. We are continuing to analyse this data and believe that there is exceptional value to be added as we build out this attractive licence and move it through the development curve. 

Saouaf is not the sole focus of our North African efforts and the Upland team are presently engaged in the consideration and evaluation of a number of JV or acquisition possibilities including drill-ready, well intervention candidates and those with existing production. Our other focus is of course Sarawak and it has recently been very encouraging to report positive developments in that particular region where having identified a number of high-impact opportunities we are well positioned with our strategic partners. We encourage investors to follow developments closely.

We look forward to being able to update the market upon a regular basis with regards to our progress in both North Africa and Asia and would like to thank shareholders for their support thus far.” 

About the Saouaf Permit 

The Saouaf Permit lies in a transitional zone between the Atlas Province and the coastal Sahel domain characterised by a complex tectonic history that gives rise to multiple structural traps involving Early and Late Cretaceous formations as well as deeper Jurassic potential. New stratigraphic potential related to sand development in Miocene channels, proved in the Gulf of Hammamet, has been interpreted in the eastern Enfidha platform area. Other prospective plays are under study. There is, therefore, a high chance of multiple, independent, leads to be the focus of de-risking in the ongoing work programme. 

A working petroleum system is indicated by the oil recorded in the Bahloul interval during the drilling of the SNJ-1 well. Numerous Cretaceous oil seepages are reported over the surface fold features of Jebel Bou Dabbous, Jebel Bargou, Jebel Djehaf and Jebels Garci and Fadhloun and are recorded by Enterprise Tunisienne d’Activites Petrolieres (‘ETAP’) in field visits. Additional source potential is evidenced in the southern area by the gas tested in the Dekrila-1 well in the Middle Cretaceous level.

The Company has decided to re-process in the coming months existing seismic lines to be selected on the basis of the conclusions from the ongoing studies. The aim of such seismic data re-processing is to advance the knowledge of existing plays and new prospective plays that have been envisaged within the Saouaf license area. 

Improved seismic reflection imaging will be integrated into a detailed geological model incorporating regional tectonics, seismic sequence stratigraphy, well data and reservoir characterisation studies. This model will allow the Company to optimise the following seismic acquisition campaign planned to ensure de-risking of multiple independent leads to develop a substantial prospect inventory for future drilling opportunities.

The Company has elected to establish a core area of expertise and operations within Tunisia. To this end, the Company is in process of evaluating several additional opportunities and is working towards applying for and negotiating additional prospecting permits in proven regional petroleum fairways.

This announcement contains inside information for the purposes of Article 7 of the Regulation (EU) No 596/2014 on market abuse

Upland Resources Limitedwww.uplandres.com
Christopher Pitman, CEOTel: +44 (0) 7891 677441
Optiva Securities Limited
Jeremy King (Corporate Finance)Tel: 020 3137 1904
Christian Dennis (Corporate Broker)Tel: 020 3137 1903
FTI Consulting
Ben Brewerton/Molly StewartTel: +44 (0) 20 3727 1708
Flowcomms Ltd
Sasha SethiTel: +44 (0)7891 677441

Notes to Editors


The Saouaf prospecting permit comprises an area of 4,004 square kilometres and lies immediately adjacent to the western edge of the Pelagian petroleum basin where there are numerous oil and gas discoveries.

The Company is developing a professional relationship with ETAP with a view to acquiring additional permits thought to have significant overlooked potential and to be identified through our studies.