MADRID – Spanish oil major Repsol-YPF plans to begin exploratory drilling in Cuban waters of the Gulf of Mexico at the start of 2012, the firm’s chief financial officer said here Thursday.
In a conference call with analysts, Miguel Martinez noted that the consortium led by Repsol and also made up of Norway’s Statoil and India’s ONGC has concession acreage in Cuba’s offshore Exclusive Economic Zone.
Other oil companies with drilling concessions in the EEZ, which covers some 112,000 sq. kilometers (43,240 sq. miles) and is divided into 59 blocks of 2,000 sq. kilometers (772 sq. miles) each, include Malaysia’s Petronas, Venezuela’s PDVSA and PetroVietnam.
Citing environmental risks, some U.S. lawmakers have denounced Repsol’s plans for deepwater oil exploration off Cuba, just 145 kilometers (90 miles) from Key West, Florida.
The Spanish company, however, says it will comply with U.S. regulations and the highest industry standards in its drilling in Cuban territorial waters.
Regarding a recent massive non-conventional oil discovery by its Argentine unit YPF, in which it now holds just over 50 percent after reducing its holdings in recent years, Martinez said Repsol is pleased to share that success with its Argentine partners.
YPF announced this week that well tests showed the Loma de La Lata field in Argentina’s Neuquen province holds about 927 million barrels of oil equivalent, Repsol’s largest find to date.
During the conference call, Martinez confirmed that Repsol plans to invest $400 million in 2012 in an initial 420-sq.-kilometer (160-sq.-mile) area of that field and achieve production of 12,000 barrels per day.
The firm also is conducting studies and drilling to quantify additional reserves in a new 502-sq.-kilometer area in that same field that has yielded positive results in preliminary tests.
Repsol plans to produce some 170,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in Libya in 2012 and thus recover nearly half of its output there, Martinez said, noting that before the civil war that ended with Moammar Gadhafi’s death the Spanish company produced around 350,000 boe/d.
The company will work to improve its production in Libya, currently about 100,000 bpd, Martinez said, adding that although the oil installations are in good condition the situation there remains uncertain and projections are difficult.
The output drop in Libya will not have a significant impact on Repsol’s accounts, according to the CFO, who expressed concern over how Libya’s interim government will finance its share of production costs.
“We’re in a situation of force majeure,” Martinez said, although he said negotiations were ongoing and that he is confident the situation in that country will be resolved soon.
Repsol last month restarted oil production in Libya, where it operates jointly with state-owned NOC in the Murzuq basin. EFE