Total to Begin Offshore Exploration in Bay of Bengal

Monday, October 22, 2007
According to a recent Reuters report, European energy major Total SA (TOTF.PA) will begin exploring for hydrocarbons in the Bay of Bengal in November, a senior energy official recently stated. In March this year, Total acquired the major stakes of UK-based Tullow Oil PLC (TLW.L) in offshore blocks 17 and 18 and received energy ministry approval to extend the exploration period stated in the production sharing contract by three years until May 5, 2009. The acquisition has left Tullow with a 32 percent stake, U.S.-based Okland Oil Co with 8.0 percent, while Total holds the remaining 60 percent in the offshore blocks. The firm will also drill one exploratory well to a depth of at least 3,000 metres (9,840 ft) in the Bay of Bengal to find new gas reserves in the structure, the official said. Other officials said there was a prospect of several trillion cubic feet of gas reserves in blocks 17 and 18, as neighboring Myanmar's gas blocks are located alongside these two offshore blocks. Total also has a a 31 percent stake in Myanmar's Yadana natural gas project in the Andaman Sea from which the French firm -- the world's fourth-largest Western oil group -- has generated $499m in taxes for the Southeast Asian country. Tullow has so far drilled only one exploration well in a block and invested $7.0m, officials reportedly indicated. In 1993, Bangladesh divided its exploration sites into 23 blocks, including seven offshore. The country, which has 13.54 trillion cubic feet of proven and recoverable gas reserves, is likely to face a gas shortage by 2011, when current reserves will be exhausted, energy officials said. [Source: Reuters]
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