- Oil companies engaged offshore Mauritania today announced that new explorations were to be initiated within few weeks, including on fields never explored before. The first commercial oil production ever in Mauritania "is on schedule" to start in early 2006, the companies further confirmed.
Australia's Woodside, Britain's Premier Oil and Mauritania's Roc Oil today all issued press releases announcing new joint exploration efforts off the Mauritanian coast. Three exploratory wells would commence drilling in late July, the companies announced.
Two of these wells, Sotto and Colin, were to "target relatively high risk but potentially high reward prospects" in PSC Area A; an area were commercial oil discoveries yet have to be made. The companied thus are hoping to make totally new discoveries in the promising waters off Mauritania.
The third well, Espadon, is set to target "a medium risk, moderate reward prospect" close to the Tiof Discovery in PSC Area B. The Tiof Discovery is already declared commercially viable but companies hope that more oil deposits can be mapped before a final decision is being made on how and when to start production at Tiof.
With three new drilling projects starting in July, Mauritania is consolidating its position as a promising investment area for the world's oil industry. According to Premier, Woodside and Roc Oil, a further two wells in PSC A or B were "likely before the end of the year." Subsequent announcements would be made later, concerning these wells.
Mauritania yet has to become a commercial oil producer, but development approval for the country's largest known field so far, the Chinguetti field, were given in May last year. According to Premier Oil, developments on Chinguetti are "on schedule for first production in early 2006," at approximately 75,000 barrels of oil per day.
The Chinguetti field lies only 25 kilometres to the south of the Tiof field, which again lies some 75 kilometres west of Nouakchott, Mauritania's capital. The Espadon well, where drilling will start in a few weeks, only lies some ten kilometres west of the Tiof field.
The "high risk" wells Sotto and Colin are located in an area that so far has not been explored by drillships. The two wells are at about 200 meters depth, located some 40-50 kilometres off the Mauritanian coast, midway between Nouakchott and the Senegalese border. Only once before, at the failed Dorade-1 exploration well even further south, have Mauritanian waters south of Nouakchott been explored.
A possible discovery at Sotto or Colin - which the engaged oil companies expect to be large-size - would have considerable consequences for the new oil sector in Mauritania. It also gives enhanced hope for further explorations south of the Senegalese border, where experts claim geological conditions are favourable for possible oil deposits.
The operations offshore Mauritania are mainly run by Woodside Mauritania, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Australia-based Woodside, which is the operator of the all the three blocks where oil is actively sought. Other main players include the Hardman Group, the BG Group and Petronas. Minor interests are held by Groupe Project Chinguetti, Premier Oil, Roc Oil and Fusion.
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