Tripoli, 14 December:
Canadian energy company Sonde has announced that it has reached an agreement with the Joint Oil Company, equally owned by the governments of Libya and Tunisia, to enter the second phase of exploration under the Exploration and Production Sharing Agreement (EPSA) in the Gulf of Gabes.
This allows Sonde to defer three exploratory well obligations into the second phase, so avoiding a potential $15 million penalty for each well, if drilling activities were not started by December 2012.
Sonde said this: “will remove a major obstacle to attract financing through a partnering process begun early this year” and will give them the flexibility to exploit fully the potential of the Joint Oil Block. Joint Oil’s directors are expected to approve and ratify the agreement at a board meeting on 20 December, after which Sonde will announce the final terms of the agreement.
The 768,000 acre offshore Joint Oil Block crosses the maritime border of Tunisia and Libya. The block is in a rich producing area, flanked by the large El Bouri, Ashtart and Miskar fields.
The Joint Oil Block contains a large portion of the Zarat discovery, located in Tunisian waters, and five large identified exploration prospects, as well as significant additional prospectivity.
Jack Schanck, Sonde’s chief executive officer, said the company had been: “Working diligently to extend its exploratory well commitment, resolve unitization issues and seek financing alternatives.
“Joint Oil has assisted Sonde by recognising the cost and difficulties in moving the Zarat Field development and exploratory effort forward by extending our obligations into the second phase of the exploration period,” Schanck said.
Oil and gas group PA Resources, who have a licence for exploration in part of the Zarat Field, say they have reached a tentative agreement with Sonde on the unitization principles of the Zarat Field in Tunisia. Unitization is the joint development of a hydrocarbon resource that straddles areas controlled by different companies.
PA Resources also said: “A detailed reservoir technical evaluation undertaken jointly by PA Resources and Sonde is on-going. Preliminary results indicate that the gas recycling option is a viable production option which will allow the production of oil and condensate in advance of gas blow down.” [/restrict]