The multinational Repsol-Partex oil and gas consortium says it will commence “clean and safe” exploratory drilling off the south coast of
late this year or early next, but it may be another four or five years before
it can accurately gauge if hydrocarbon deposits are sufficient to make it
worthwhile to proceed to commercial extraction. Portugal
The consortium has already carried out seismic surveys and other preparatory studies since acquiring the offshore concession for blocks 13 and 14 in
October 2011. As the exploration is still in the preliminary stages, no firm date
can yet be set for the start of drilling. Algarve
Repsol, with its headquarters in
Madrid and 90% of the shares
in the partnership with Lisbon-based Partex, is the main operator in the
In September 2012, Repsol in partnership with Petrobras, Galp and Partex acquired the rights to prospect in
Peniche Bay north of .
The Brazilian corporation Petrobras withdrew from the consortium last May
leaving Repsol as the project operator with 65% of the shares. Galp has 30%
participation and Partex the remaining 5%. Drilling off Peniche is not expected
to start until at least 2016. Lisbon
While much more sophisticated exploratory techniques exist these days, onshore and offshore searches have been carried out in Portuguese waters for many decades. Several major companies, including Shell, Chevron and Esso, have drilled scores of wells in various demarcated blocks, especially since the 1970s. No commercial production has ever been achieved.
The Poseidon gas fields in the
Cadiz basin suggest that deposits
in the neighbouring
basin are more likely to contain commercial quantities of natural gas rather
than oil. Algarve
A Repsol spokesman told Portugal Newswatch this week that environmental and safety studies are being carried out before any drilling takes place. This comes amid public concerns about the possible impact of drilling on regional tourism and the economy, as well as the fishing industry, marine ecosystems and coastal landscapes.
“Environmental and safety studies are being conducted to guarantee a clean and safe drilling operation,” the spokesman said. “Repsol does environmental and safety studies prior to any operation, taking into account the social, economic and environmental issues and following legislation and the highest international standards in the industry. The company takes into consideration such studies in the planning of the operations and works closely with national and local authorities.”
On the subject of pollution, the spokesman added: “One basic difference between gas and oil is that gas evaporates and oil needs containment on water surfaces. In the event of a well failure, gas spills are easier to control than oil spills, as the gas is not retained in the seawater. No water pollution is generated and the hydrocarbon bubbles into the atmosphere until well control is achieved. In the
, as no
hazardous gas is expected, a gas pollution case is an extremely improbable
It is still too early in the exploration process to know exactly where the Algarve or Peniche drilling rigs will be located, “but they will always be some tens of kilometres off the coast and will not be visible from the shore,” said the spokesman.
* Photo of oil and gas operation in the Gulf of Mexico