- The British oil company Dana Petroleum today announced it had acquired a large interest in the ongoing oil explorations offshore Morocco's town of Safi. Dana, which is also engaged in Mauritania and Senegal, holds that the waters off central Morocco are promising and under-explored.
Dana Petroleum, a small oil company based in Scottish Aberdeen, today announced its new engagement in yet another African country, Morocco. The company, which only produces oil in the British sector of the North Sea and Russia, is also engaged in explorations and production preparations in Mauritania, Senegal, Ghana and Kenya.
The Scottish oil company announced that it had acquired the rights of Global Resource Holdings, LLLP in respect of a 35 percent interest in a reconnaissance contract covering the north-western Safi area offshore the Atlantic coast of Morocco.
The contract covers a large area spanning 6,645 square kilometres with water depths ranging from 300 to 3,000 metres. The remaining 65 percent interest in the reconnaissance contract, originally awarded in April 2004, is held by the operator, Norsk Hydro, a large Norwegian oil and gas company that also has several operations in Africa.
According to Tom Cross, Dana's Chief Executive, the Moroccan acquisition is part of the company's strategy to build a strong presence in the promising but under-explored region. "This new venture builds on Dana's strong exploration position offshore West Africa, where we already hold important interests across Mauritania and Senegal," commented Mr Cross.
In particular Moroccan waters held a great potential for oil explorations. "Being relatively under explored, offshore Morocco offers significant potential which Dana is looking forward to pursuing in partnership with Norsk Hydro and ONHYM, the Moroccan national oil company," the company's executive said in a statement today.
The blocks offshore Safi are safely placed within Moroccan jurisdiction - Safi being located between Casablanca and Agadir. It is one of the few potential oil fields the Moroccan government seeks to explore that go clear of political risks. Other potential fields include areas claimed by both Morocco and Spain's Canary Islands and the waters off the coast of Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara.
Most Moroccan oil explorations have so far been concentrated in these disputed areas. The disputed area between Spain's Canary Islands and the southern tip of Morocco are already known to hold commercially viable oil resources, but exploitation is blocked by popular protests in Fuerteventura, the Canary Island closest to the wells, and a dispute between Rabat and Madrid over the maritime border.
Offshore Western Sahara, the situation is even more confusing. Here, international protest has driven most foreign companies contracted by ONHYM to leave the occupied territory. Only the US company Kerr-McGee still operates here. Meanwhile, the exiled Sahrawi government in 2002 granted exploration rights to the British-Australian company Fusion Oil and recently announced a new round of licensing.
Significant oil discoveries off Mauritania and the Canary Islands indicate that the entire area offshore Western Sahara and Morocco may be holding large oil and gas resources. Also further south, offshore Senegal, Guinea-Bissau and Guinea, large hydrocarbon resources are expected.
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