MONTEVIDEO – Uruguay has entered a new phase in its search for offshore oil after the completion of a seismic-survey program, state energy firm ANCAP said Wednesday.
The surveying work pledged by the winning companies in the Uruguay Round II has been completed, Pablo Gristo, an engineer in ANCAP’s exploration and production department, told Efe.
“Now a new phase has begun. The data will be good and, once it’s been processed, it will be possible to precisely determine the Uruguayan basin’s hydrocarbon potential,” he said.
Britain’s BP plc and BG, Ireland’s Tullow Oil and France’s Total spent some $2 billion to analyze several exploratory blocks they acquired in 2012 in the Uruguay Round II.
Over that period, the companies collected 3D and 2D seismic data over an area of more than 45,000 sq. kilometers (17,375 sq. miles), took around 250 sediment samples and acquired data from 164 magneto-telluric stations, Gristo said.
“That data will now be studied, which is an arduous task. What’s certain is that Total is going to drill a well at around the end of 2015 in ultra-deep waters to really know what’s down there,” the engineer said.
That drilling will be conducted at a spot some 200 kilometers (124 miles) off the Uruguayan coast at a depth of some 3,000 meters (9,835 feet).
ANCAP sources cited by the Uruguayan press said it will be apparent by 2017 or 2018 whether the South American country has commercially viable oil reserves.
In that regard, ANCAP CEO Jose Coya said Tuesday that before year’s end the country will auction off rights to conduct exploratory drilling in Uruguay’s maritime platform.
Uruguay currently imports all the oil it consumes, primarily from Venezuela, Ecuador and Iran.