Atlantic mirror tested by oil explorers

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BP Plc, ConocoPhillips and Statoil ASA (STL) are among oil explorers investing at least $3 billion in wells off Angola next year in the country’s biggest deepwater drilling campaign.

The companies will drill 20 wells beneath a layer of salt about 3 miles (5 kilometers) under the seabed at a cost of about $150 million each. Shifting rigs from the Gulf of Mexico could add a further $50 million per well.

The drilling will test the industry’s Atlantic mirror theory that there may be huge deposits of oil deep beneath the sea off West Africa similar to those across the ocean in Brazil, where some of the biggest finds of the last decade have been made. Angola hopes it can tap offshore reserves to help it surpass Nigeria and become Africa’s biggest oil producer.

Angola wants to increase output from 1.78 million barrels a day in July to more than 2 million barrels a day in 2017.Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Houston-based Vaalco Energy Inc. (EGY), Repsol SA (REP), Eni SA and Total SA (FP) are among companies slated to drill. Most have commitments to produce seismic imaging and drill two wells by 2016.

Maersk Oil Angola SA has identified five drilling targets across Blocks 8 and 23 with one to be drilled this year and more in 2014. The explorer may sell equity in the blocks, where it currently owns 50 percent of each.

Photos: wikimedia.org; drillingahead.com
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