CALGARY - Reknown oilpatch veteran Clay Riddell is making a big investment in Canadian Superior Energy Inc. (TSX:SNG), a Calgary-based natural gas producer that has seen a great deal of upheaval in the past year.
"I'm excited about their project in Trinidad," said Riddell in an interview, referring to an offshore block believed to contain between three and five trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
When asked what about the offshore Trinidad natural gas field piqued his interest, Riddell said bluntly: "It's big."
A long-time investor in Canadian Superior, Riddell had been following the evolution of exploration Block 5 (c), in which Canadian Superior used to have a controlling stake.
After a series of developments over the past year - including a dispute with one joint venture partner and the takeover of another -Canadian Superior now has a 25 per cent interest in the field, which is believed to contain between three and five trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Canadian Superior said Friday it plans to raise up to $50 million through a non-brokered private placement issue of up to 96.2 million common shares. The company said it will issue the stock at 52 cents each.
Shares in the company soared 15.7 per cent to 59 cents on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Friday.
The financing is slated to close Jan. 14, and the money raised will be used for exploration and development and for general corporate purposes.
Treherne Resources Ltd., a private company controlled by Riddell, has subscribed for $20 million of that private placement.
Riddell, or someone else from Treherne, was offered a spot on Canadian Superior's board, which was overhauled at the behest of a major shareholder in September.
"I'll have such a large interest in the company and I'd like to participate in how it goes forward," Riddell said.
The Riddell name is well known in Alberta's oil and gas industry.
A geologist by trade, Riddell founded Paramount Resources Ltd. in 1974, which has since been spun off into different firms.
His daughter Sue Riddell Rose runs Paramount Energy Trust (TSX:PET.UN) and his son Jim Riddell is chief executive of Trilogy Energy Trust (TSX:TET.UN).
He is also the chairman and chief executive of another company he founded, Arctic natural gas explorer MGM Energy Corp. (TSX:MGX).
In February, a partner in the Trinidad block, U.K.-based BG Group, persuaded an Alberta judge to put Canadian Superior's stake under the control of a receiver.
BG had feared final testing and completion of a well would not be completed, given the financial problems of Canadian Superior and a third partner in the project, Challenger Energy Corp.
A month later, Canadian Superior and Challenger both filed for protection from creditors under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act.
In May, Canadian Superior sold its 45 per cent stake in the Trinidad field for US$142.5 million to BG Group.
And then in June, Canadian Superior agreed to merge with Challenger in a friendly deal worth $77.8 million.
Canadian Superior explores for and produces oil and natural gas and is developing a liquefied natural gas project.
In addition to its venture in Trinidad and Tobago, Canadian Superior is also active in Western Canada, North Africa, off Eastern Canada and the United States.