07 November 2013, News Wires – ExxonMobil is set to restart exploration off Madagascar after securing extensions to production sharing contracts on deep-water licences that will enable it to return to the play following a four-year hiatus.
The US supermajor was compelled to declare force majeure following a 2009 coup on the Indian Ocean island, where inhabitants now hope a presidential election will end a political crisis and revive its crippled economy.
ExxonMobil said it has now formally received extensions to its three operated licences – Ampasindava, Majunga and Cap St Andre – that had been rubber-stamped by President Andry Rajoelina back in July.
The company stated its affiliates working in the country “intend to resume exploration work and environmental assessments for shore-based and offshore operations in preparation for deep-water drilling”.
ExxonMobil holds a 70% stake in the Ampasindava licence, with partner Sterling Energy on 30%, and 50% in Majunga, where it is partnered by BG Group (30%), PVEP (10%) and SK Innovation (10%), while the third permit is wholly owned by the company.
Madagascar currently has no proven offshore hydrocarbon reserves but shares a maritime boundary with Mozambique where huge deposits of natural gas have been found.
Another oil company, AIM-listed Madagascar Oil, estimates its two principal onshore fields, Tsimiroro and Bemolanga, have multi-billion-barrel resource volumes in place.
Meanwhile, Norwegian seismic contractor TGS has kicked off multi-client 2D seismic, gravity and magnetic surveys off the island using the vessel Challenger, in partnership with BGP.
The pair of industry-funded surveys will add 7025 kilometres of new 2D data to augment the existing 33,315 kilometres of data earlier acquired by TGS.