MONTEVIDEO – Norway’s Statoil has acquired a 15 percent stake in an offshore exploration block operated by French energy major Total, an executive with Uruguayan state oil firm Ancap told EFE on Friday.
Total had already sold a 35 percent stake in the block, which it was awarded in 2012 as part of the Uruguay Round II auction, to U.S. oil supermajor ExxonMobil last November.
Under the terms of an exploration project for Offshore Area 14, a well is to be drilled beginning in March.
The well, which will be located at a spot some 400 kilometers (250 miles) off the coast of Montevideo, will cost nearly $200 million and be the world’s deepest, said Ancap’s head of E&P administration and contracts, Santiago Ferro.
Ancap views the addition of Statoil as “very positive,” he said, describing that company as a world leader in offshore drilling.
“Statoil has a great deal of experience in offshore operations and is a partner that can contribute from a technical standpoint and help diversify risk among the three companies,” Ferro said.
The Ancap executive said it was “important to attract the largest number of potential companies to the project, to the extent that they have the sufficient technical and financial capacity.”
Winners of the Uruguay Round II contracts are allowed to seek out other partners in their respective blocks, although they must be approved by Ancap, Ferro said.
The drilling program is scheduled to last 111 days, with an expected cost of $1 million per day, Ancap CEO Jose Coya said in November.
Ancap said last November that “several exploration operations have been carried out (in block 14), particularly a 3D seismic survey covering 7,188 sq. kilometers (2,775 sq. miles), which revealed some leads and prospects.”
It said then that that seismic survey led to the “decision to test the main prospect identified by drilling an exploratory well.”