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Europa extends Atlantic knowledge into Morocco

Europa Oil & Gas chief executive Hugh Mackay
Europa Oil & Gas chief executive Hugh Mackay

Europa Oil & Gas has signed up to explore Morocco’s Inezgane offshore permit, with the aim of hunting Lower Cretaceous fans.

“We’ve got a strong interest in the Atlantic margins,” Europa’s CEO Hugh Mackay told Energy Voice. “We’ve got a strong position in Ireland and Morocco was a logical step – it’s a country that has been largely overlooked. The Irish geology and knowledge is very comparable and all the ingredients for a successful hydrocarbon play are there.”

The CEO went on to say that 10 wells had been drilled in Morocco’s offshore but that they had not been oriented towards testing the Lower Cretaceous. “There are excellent reservoirs onshore and offshore, in the Canary Islands. Only three deepwater wells have been drilled in the Lower Cretaceous off Morocco and none were optimal. No one has gone out there to purposely drill where the Lower Cretaceous sandstones are the thickest.”

Genel Energy has recently completed a seismic shoot near Europa’s licence and Eni is working with Qatar Petroleum on Tarfaya.

Inezgane covers 11,228 square km in the Agadir Basin. The licence runs for eight years and a formal letter of award from the Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines (ONHYM) is expected shortly. Europa will have a 75% stake in the area, while ONHYM has the remaining 25%.

Water depth on the area ranges from 600 to 2,000 metres. Initial work by Europa suggests the company will focus on an area of about 1,500 square km, with water depths of around 1,000 metres. The statement said a number of large structural traps had been identified, each of which has the potential to hold more than 250 million barrels of oil.

The first phase of the licence runs for two years. During the first year, the company plans to focus on reprocessing 1,300 square km of 3D seismic. “We’ve begun loading up the data in order to select an area. Based on the work we have done in the data room, there seem to be three prospects of interest.”

In the second, Europa will prepare its target inventory and seek a partner to farm in, in order to move into the next phase, which carries with it an obligation to drill an exploration well. “We’ve been much heartened by Chariot Oil & Gas’ progress, off Namibia, where they drilled a deepwater well for less than $20mn. One area in which Morocco differs from Ireland is that the environment is much less harsh,” Mackay said.

Europa is planning on exploration work offshore Ireland in 2020, where it intends to drill a well on the Inishkea prospect. This is close to the Corrib gas field, where production is declining, which would provide low-cost transportation – if the well is successful.

With the addition of Morocco’s Inezgane permit, Mackay said the country now considered it had sufficient exploration opportunities. “We would like to fill in some spaces in the appraisal and development area. We’ve got some production in the UK and more coming, from the Wressle field, but we would like more production or near production. It’s more likely to be North Africa than it is the UK. We’re looking at opportunities and one of these days we’ll say yes.”

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