Oil found for first time off French Guiana

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A joint venture exploration involving Shell and Total has discovered oil for the first time in deep waters around 150 kilometres (90 miles) off the coast of French Guiana.

Anglo Dutch energy giant Shell said in a statement that it was too early to put a figure on the reserves discovered along with venture energy partners Total, Tullow and Northpet but said that the first results were "encouraging".

"As part of the Tullow-operated joint venture, Shell today confirms an oil discovery in the Guyane Maritime permit approximately 150-kilometres offshore French Guiana."

"The GM-ES-1 well... to date has drilled to a depth of 5,711 metres."

The project is 27.5 percent controlled by Tullow Oil, 45 percent by Shell, 25 percent by Total and 2.5 percent by Northpet.

"Yesterday (Thursday) we retrieved fluid samples," Tullow Oil's local manager Joachim Vogt told AFP.

"These are liquid hydrocarbons, of an interesting viscosity, at first sight sufficiently liquid to be brought to the surface."

"We have penetrated an area that is 72 metres thick but we don't know how far it goes horizontally."

"We'll have to study and verify its extent, its characteristics, meaning possible connections with different pockets. Only then can we know if the discovered oil is commercially exploitable."

Shell's executive vice president Exploration and Commercial, Dave Lawrence, said the company was "pleased with the preliminary results of this first ever deepwater well" off the shores of French Guiana.

"We are early in the evaluation, but the initial results are encouraging for this new play. The joint venture will continue to drill ahead, evaluate the well results, and determine next steps," he added in the statement.

Hopes of finding oil in the region have been bolstered by recent finds off Brazil's northeastern coast.

Geologists believe that the area could hold similar hydrocarbon reserves to those in Africa's Gulf of Guinea, across the Atlantic Ocean. The two pieces of land were connected until around 100 million years ago.


© 2011 AFP

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