Our story

Our story - where it began

"It started in a small town called Tullow, about 35 miles south of Dublin, Ireland. I was talking to a friend of mine and he was talking about small oil fields in Africa, which had been left behind by the majors and had no-one to work them. That is where the idea came from. I contacted another friend of mine in the World Bank who told me about a project in Senegal. They had some small gas fields that they were trying to get people to develop, so I set up Tullow Oil to rework those old fields. I knew nothing about the oil and gas industry at the time, which made it more challenging. No one thought Tullow would succeed because of my lack of knowledge of the industry, no major backers and I was starting a company in a country with no oil industry." 

Aidan Heavey

Timeline from 1986 - 2018

  1. 1986+

    Up and running

    Tullow in 1986+

    Following the signing of a licence agreement in Senegal in 1986, gas production and sales commenced in 1987. In 1988, Tullow expanded its operations into the UK by acquiring exploration acreage and proven gas fields. In 1989, Tullow was awarded its first onshore UK licence and acquired exploration acreage in Spain, Italy and South Yemen. In the same year, Tullow listed its shares on the London and Irish Stock Exchanges.

  2. 1990s

    Steady progress

    Tullow in 1990s

    In 1990, Tullow signed its first licence agreement in Pakistan, laying the foundations for the Group's South Asia assets. Gas was discovered at the Sara field in Pakistan in 1994 and eventually brought on stream in 1999. Tullow acquired licences through the 1990s including in Bangladesh, India, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt and Romania.

  3. 2000+

    Defining period

    Tullow in 2000+

    In 2000, Tullow made the first of a series of key acquisitions when the Group bought producing gas fields and related infrastructure in the UK Southern North Sea from BP for £201m. Tullow also raised £42m in a placing to help pay for the deal. This proved to be a catalyst for Tullow and the Group became a leading player in the CMS and Thames/Hewett areas. The BP deal gave Tullow substantial production and cash flow for the first time and Tullow focused these new financial resources and management attention on offshore UK, West Africa and South Asia. In 2000, Tullow also re-registered in the UK. In 2003, Tullow acquired additional equity in the Hewitt unit in the Southern North and assumed operatorship of the Bacton Gas Terminal in East Anglia.

    This transaction will transform Tullow, provide sufficient production revenue to fund all our foreseeable international exploration projects and unlock significant upside potential offshore UK.

    Aidan Heavey, CEO
  4. 2004

    Doubled in size

    Tullow in 2004

    In 2004 Tullow doubled in size as a result of the $500m Energy Africa acquisition. This was a transformational acquisition which gave Tullow substantial production of 54,000 boepd (50% oil; 50% gas) and a range of production and exploration assets in Uganda, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Namibia and Congo (B) among others. As result of this major acquisition and other, smaller deals, Tullow recorded its highest levels of production, sales revenue, profits and cash flow. Tullow also completed a placing of £113m to help pay for Energy Africa.

    The acquisition of Energy Africa by Tullow will create a formidable independent oil and gas company.

    Aiden Heavey, CEO
  5. 2005

    Financial growth

    Tullow in 2005

    Production, profits, earnings and cash flow grew strongly in 2005 following the integration of Energy Africa and the Group had two UK North Sea gas discoveries, a discovery in Gabon and one in Mauritania.

  6. 2006

    Transformational year

    Tullow in 2006

    In 2006, Tullow’s remarkable record of exploration success began. The Group made five oil discoveries in Uganda during 2006, which established the existence of a working hydrocarbon basin and marked the beginning of proving up a world-class major new oil province in the Lake Albert basin. Tullow also made three gas discoveries in the UK. In the third quarter, Tullow announced its largest ever acquisition with a US$1.1 billion bid for Hardman Resources Limited. This transaction became effective in December 2006 and completed in January 2007. As a result of this acquisition, Tullow gained not only a dominating operating position in Uganda, where it had partnered with Hardman, but also assets in Mauritania, French Guiana and Suriname.

    The initial results of the Mputa-1 well are very significant in that they prove the existence of a working petroleum system in the Albertine Basin.

    Aidan Heavey, CEO
  7. 2007+

    Largest ever discovery

    Tullow in 2007+

    In 2007, Tullow’s exploration success continued with its largest ever discovery which led directly to the development of the Jubilee field, offshore Ghana. There was 100% exploration success in Uganda, moving this project closer to the commercial threshold for development. The Group generated record production, sales revenue, operating cash flow and growth in reserves and resources. Tullow was promoted to the FTSE100 in September 2007.

  8. 2009

    Continued exploration activity

    Tullow in 2009

    2009 was another great year for Tullow. Exploration and Appraisal (E&A) activity continued at pace with major successes in Ghana and Uganda. The business continued to focus on First Oil in Ghana in 2010 and raised £402m in a stock market placing to help pay for the development.

  9. 2010

    Breaking records

    Tullow in 2010

    The clear highlight of 2010 was achieving First Oil from the Jubilee field offshore Ghana just 40 months after the first discovery. The development was delivered on time and within 5% of the original budget. E&A success continued in Uganda, Gabon and in Ghana. The Owo-1 (later renamed Enyenra) well was a significant oil discovery in 2010; this was key moment in building up Ghana’s second major development, the TEN project, which is due to come on stream in 2016.

    Tullow executed a successful equity placing in January 2010 which raised £925m. The money raised was used to pay for Tullow’s purchase of Heritage Oil plc’s assets in Uganda for a total consideration of $1.5bn. Tullow announced that it would farm-down 66.6% of its interests in Uganda, post completion of the deal with Heritage, to Total and CNOOC.

  10. 2011

    Record results

    Tullow in 2011

    In 2011, Tullow continued its appraisal of the Tweneboa-Enyenra-Ntomme oilfield, offshore Ghana. The company also made an exceptional discovery with the Zaedyus-1 well (73m of net oil pay), offshore French Guiana. On the back of strong commodity prices and increased production following First Oil at Jubilee, Tullow had a very strong year financially with an increase in profit after tax of 670% to $689 million. Tullow also listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange in July 2011, raising £46m in the process, and made two purchases: of EO Group in Ghana for $305m which increased Tullow’s equity in the Jubilee Field and of Nuon BV for €300m which added to Tullow’s Dutch North Sea exploration and producing assets.

    The discovery at Zaedyus has proved the extension of the Jubilee-play across the Atlantic.

    Angus McCoss, Exploration Director
  11. 2012

    Major progress

    Tullow in 2012

    In early 2012 Tullow completed its $2.9bn farm-down to Total and CNOOC in Uganda and used the proceeds to become debt-free. In April 2012, Tullow made an exceptional oil discovery in another country which had never found oil before. This time the Ngamia-1 well in Northern Kenya found 100m of net oil pay (later increased after appraisal to 200m). Tullow also added highly prospective new licences in Africa and the Atlantic Margins. The Jubilee Field in Ghana performed well and provided a strong base for Tullow’s operational cash flow and the Group secured a $3.5bn debt refinancing towards the end of the year. The second Zaedyus well was unsuccessful. In December 2012, Tullow acquired Spring Energy, an exploration company based in Oslo with assets throughout offshore Norway, for £372m.

    Ngamia-1 is an excellent start to our major exploration campaign in the East African rift basins of Kenya and Ethiopia. To make a good oil discovery in our first well is beyond our expectations.

    Angus McCoss, Exploration Director
  12. 2013

    Growth in Kenya

    Tullow in 2013

    In 2013 Tullow delivered $2 billion of operating cash flow and established a flexible and strong balance sheet. The Group delivered another year of exploration and appraisal success, most notably in onshore Kenya, and made significant progress with its key developments in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda. There were disappointments, however, especially offshore French Guiana where the potential of the Zaedyus-1 well was not fulfilled with four consecutive dry holes in the follow up campaign. Unsuccessful wells offshore Mozambique and in Ethiopia were also significant disappointments. Tullow entered the bond market for the first time raising $650m in a heavily over-subscribed issue. The TEN project in Ghana received approval and is targeting mid-2016 for First Oil. 

  13. 2014

    Achievements and challenges

    Tullow in 2014

    In 2014 the Jubilee Project in Ghana met its annual production target and the FPSO performed impressively. The TEN Project, also in Ghana, continued to progress on time and on budget and at year end was over 50% complete. In East Africa, the Group made further discoveries in Kenya to help underpin the South Lokichar Basin’s commercial potential. We also had a further discovery, offshore Northern Norway, with the Hanssen-1 well which contributed materially to the wider Wisting cluster. 

    2014 was a challenging year for the traditional oil and gas sector. Oil prices fell dramatically in the second half of the year and the traditional E&P sector was out of favour with investors. In late 2014, the market conditions led Tullow to review its capital expenditure and cost base, and the Group announced that it was re-allocating its spend in 2015 to focus on the TEN Project, the Jubilee field, West African non-operated production and lower-cost, lower risk exploration. The shift towards production assets and the commercialisation of existing discoveries that will generate significant future value and cash flow, will ensure the Group is well-positioned for success when the industry cycle turns.

  14. 2015

    Adjusting to a new market reality

    Tullow in 2015

    Tullow acted quickly to a lower oil price environment. The Group took decisive actions: focusing our capital on high-margin West African oil projects and cash flow generation; cutting exploration expenditure; suspending our dividend; reviewing all current and future projects and focusing on efficiency and cost savings. These initiatives helped to protect the balance sheet and funding position of the business. The Group also restructured our organisation structure reducing headcount by ~40%, a plan which is delivering cash savings ~$500 million over a three year period.

    Despite these distractions, Tullow’s maintained production at 73,400 boepd. The impact of lower prices was mitigated by our prudent hedging strategy, which helped to underpin revenues of $1,607 million. Tullow’s focus on delivery was demonstrated by progressing the TEN Project in Ghana. Appraisal activity continued in Kenya, and nine successful appraisal wells underpinned the discovered resource base and upside potential of the South Lokichar Basin.


  15. 2016

    Confronting challenges & achieving results

    Tullow in 2016

    The clear highlight of 2016 was delivering Ghana’s second major oil and gas development, the TEN fields, on time and on budget. Production from TEN, alongside Tullow’s other West African oil production, has begun the generation of positive free cash flow and enabled the business to begin the important process of deleveraging the Group’s balance sheet. This was achieved despite the technical issues we dealt with on Jubilee. Good progress was also made in East Africa with a decision on the export pipeline routes; the award of Uganda production licences and the farm down of Tullow’s interest in our Uganda licences to Total, announced in January 2017.


  16. 2017

    Focused on opportunities in a changed industry

    Tullow in 2017

    In 2017, Paul McDade became Tullow's new CEO as founder-CEO Aidan Heavey, stepped into the role of Chairman. Tullow moved into a much stronger financial position, generating $543 million of free cash flow (FCF) and reducing debt to $3.5 billion. This achievement was in part thanks to the hard work of the business to maximise FCF from operations, but also a result of the loyalty shareholders showed through the $750 million Rights Issue, which was the final part of resetting the business.

    We generated record production of 94,700 boepd, beating original guidance and boosted by strong performance at TEN and Jubilee. The ITLOS ruling in September, which had no adverse impact on Tullow, provided clarity for our business in both Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire. 

    In Kenya, we completed the South Lokichar Basin appraisal programme and through confirming material oil resources to support substantial production, we defined a development project focused on the Amosing and Ngamia fields as the Foundation Stage.  

  17. 2018

    A new chapter in Tullow's history

    Tullow in 2018

    In 2018 we continued to build on the progress we made in 2017, further strengthening our balance sheet, maintaining cost and capital discipline, delivering our operational targets and continuing to build an exciting exploration portfolio.

    We produced 90,000 boepd during the year and delivered significant free cash flow of over $400m, firmly establishing Tullow as a self-funding oil company, balanced across exploration, development and production. We also clearly laid out our capital allocation framework, which includes the Board’s decision to reinstate a dividend of no less than $100m from 2019 onwards.

    2018 was also a year where we defined our vision for the Company into the next decade, to deliver our ambitions for growth and balance the broader interests of our three stakeholder groups: our investors, our host countries and their communities, and our people.

    In 2018 we also saw changes at Board level with the retirement of our founder, Aidan Heavey and the arrival of Dorothy Thompson as our new Chair.

    With the balance sheet strengthened and with financial discipline embedded in the business, it is now time for us to focus on growth.

    Paul McDade, CEO

    Dorothy Thompson, Chair