Alentejo oil test well gets green light
The consortium led by Italian oil company ENI has been given the go-ahead to begin test drilling in the autumn.
According to document sent to the Portuguese Environmental Agency (APA) for prior evaluation before a final Environmental Impact Evaluation (AIA), “The commencement date for exploratory drilling is estimated to be between the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth this year”.
The duration of the exploration will be approximately 46 days (including equipment montage). It will be the first time that oil exploration will have been undertaken in the country. A logistics base will be set up in Sines, appropriately 88 km from the actual test site beneath the Alentejo basin off Aljezur.
At the same time, the sonar vessel Saipem 12000 will be sent to the site and only afterwards will drilling begin at a depth of 1,070 metres (at average seabed level) with the probe taking approximately 43 days. On completion, the drilling equipment will be removed within three days.
“This is a very specific task requiring profound technical knowledge and considerable experience with a highly specialised team of 150 specialists,” says the Eni document.
The Italian oil company became a concessionaire in December 2014 when it reached an agreement with Petrogal, a petroleum subsidiary wholly owned by Galp Energia over acquiring a 70% share and operation rights associated to the concessions for Gamba, Santola and Lavagante while Galp holds the remaining 30% in the consortium (which previously it had shared with the Brazilian oil producer Petrobas).
Licenses for drilling and exploration off the Alentejo were granted by the Portuguese State in 2007 and could net Portugal royalties of €4Bn over 17 years.
“The main objective of the drilling phase is to get a better understanding of the potential crude oil resources in the Alentejo basin guided by all the geophysical data and studies undertaken in the past,” states ENI, adding that: “the only way of determining if the quantities of oil and gas are commercially viable is by drilling test wells”.
Studies suggest that there could be a potential 1,000 million and 1,500 million barrels of oil in the Alentejo basin, the equivalent of 11 to 17 years of national consumption.