Shell, Northern step up Italy campaign

Northern Petroleum sees Italy as offering its greatest potential for material growth, according to the company’s annual review.

Offshore staff

LONDON -- Northern Petroleum sees Italy as offering its greatest potential for material growth, according to the company’s annual review.

Early this year, Northern conducted a joint 2D seismic survey with Shell Italia over 2,463 km (1,530 mi) west of Sicily at the extension of the Apennine-Magrehbian thrust productive belt.

The farm-out agreement, signed last December, gives Shell the option to acquire 3D seismic and to drill a well to maintain a 70% interest in Northern’s offshore licenses G.R20.NP, G.R21.NP, and G.R22.NP.

Shell also gains 55% of licenses G.R17.NP, G.R18.NP, and G.R19.NP, and its share of expenditure on these permits could exceed Eu 100 million ($140 million).

Following the initial 2D survey, a further 602 km (374 mi) of 2D seismic were acquired to infill Northern’s 2006 survey over offshore license C.R147.NP, at the northern end of the Tunisian Birsa oil production trend. The chief purpose was to define the large Arcturus prospect, and the secondary Antares and Altair structures.

This year Northern gained a further (preliminary) award for license d351C.R-NP, which covers the fully mapped eastern extension of its giant Vesta prospect close to the maritime boundary with Malta, where the estimated resource potential is over 600 MMbbl.

According to Northern’s chairman Richard Latham, this change resulted from a detailed study of volcanic strata in the area, parts of which overlie the target formation, and from seismic reprocessing of the 2006 survey.

Latham added that Northern had been working on another of the company’s core areas in the southern Adriatic Sea, and it expects to purchase Eni’s seismic data around the Rovesti oil discovery.

Once the revised evaluation has been completed, Northern will seek a partner to co-fund the appraisal and development program.

06/24/2009

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