- A British oil company today announced its acquisition of interests in two Tunisian oil permits, one onshore and one offshore. Drilling on the two blocks will start within months.
The announcement was made today by the London-based Gulfsands Petroleum, saying it had signed two agreements to enter Tunisia for the first time. The exploration permits include Chorbane, which is onshore in central Tunisia, and the twin connected Kerkouane and G.R15.PU permits, located offshore at the Tunisian-Italian maritime border.
The onshore Chorbane permit is located near the port city of Sfax and covers an area of 2,428 square kilometres. The permit is surrounded by several producing oil fields and extensive oil and gas infrastructure.
The Enterprise Tunisienne D'Activities Petrolieres or "ETAP" is also involved in the Chorbane block, where previous explorations have indicated that gas discoveries will be most likely.
Gulfsands in a statement says it expects to drill the Sidi Daher exploration at Chorbane "well prior to the end of 2010, and the gross well cost is estimated at approximately US$ 5.0 million." Should a commercial discovery be made, first production could start as early as within "18-24 months of discovery" due to the good infrastructure in the area, the company says.
Offshore, the UK company is now engaged in a twin permit on the Tunisian-Italian maritime border, north-east of Tunis. "The two permits are contiguous and comprise a total area of approximately 4,500 square kilometres," according to Gulfsands.
"The forward work commitment for the Kerkouane Permit requires the drilling of one exploration well," the statement says. A semi-submersible offshore drilling unit is to conduct the work programme for a prospect at approximately 400 meter of water, "with an expected spud date of 15 June 2010."
Tunisia has been a minor oil and gas producing nation since the early 1960s, with oil production peaking in the mid-1980s. But during the last five years, increased efforts have been made to find new oil and gas deposits in the country, with several medium-sized discoveries being made. Most experts however hold that Tunisia by now has only modest oil reserves compared to its neighbours.
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