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Regional News

September 11, 2007
Repsol ready to invest US$65M in oil search here
Stabroek News

Spain 's Repsol YPF is prepared to invest another US$65M to search for oil off the coast of Guyana once the UN Arbitration Tribunal resolves this country's maritime boundary dispute with neighbouring Suriname, a company official said recently.

According to industry website Rigzone.com, Repsol's geophysical adviser Allan Keane said: "We're just waiting for the border resolution and as soon as that's resolved, we're ready to go forward and start working because we don't make money until we find oil, and the sooner we get the seismic out of the way, we can drill a well."

Guyana expects the Hamburg-based United Nations Tribunal on the Law of the Sea to hand down its ruling before year's end.

Georgetown took the matter to the UN panel after bilateral talks and mediation efforts by the Caribbean Community failed to produce agreement with Suriname on joint exploration and exploitation of the disputed area, which the US Geological Survey says could contain 15.3 billion barrels of oil.

In 1998, government granted CGX, a Canadian company, a concession to drill for oil offshore but before drilling started a Surinamese air force plane spotted the rig and Surinamese gunboats ordered it out of the area in June 2000.

The Guyana Government in 2004 took the dispute to the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea in Hamburg , Germany . Since then the development of the disputed area, the Guyana-Suriname Basin , has been stalled pending the decision.

According to Rigzone, Repsol's Keane said a seismic survey of the most-promising portion of the concession could cost US$15M and that, depending on the results, the company might spend another US$50M to drill an exploratory well.

He said the Spanish energy firm will be ready to begin the seismic survey in the first or second quarter of 2008.

Repsol, according to Keane, prefers to await the ruling by the UN Tribunal before conducting any work, especially in the eastern third of the concession, which overlaps with the area claimed by Suriname .

"If you have to go in and do it twice, you are going to end up paying twice as much money because a big portion of the cost is just mobilization of a seismic vessel into the area," he said.

Ahead of a decision, oil exploration company CGX Energy Inc had some weeks ago signalled its readiness to continue drilling and is upbeat about a commercial find in Guyana's waters.

Director of the Petroleum Division at the Guyana Geo-logy and Mines Commission Newell Dennison, said in March that representatives of Repsol, Canadian-owned CGX Energy and US giant Exxon Mobil had all visited the country.

"The companies are coming in anticipation of a resolution being passed down, and so we are in

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