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Northern Petroleum starts 3D acquisition over four West Sicily oil licenses

Northern Petroleum (AIM: NOP) has commenced 3D seismic operations on four licenses in the West Sicily thrust belt to obtain better quality and more complete definitions of structures identified by two previous 2D seismic campaigns, which the company said were “encouraging.”

The two month seismic campaign will cover the G.R17.NP, G.R20.NP, G.R21.NP and G.R22.NP licenses to acquire a total of up to 1,520 square kilomatres of 3D seismic. This will be a part of the work programme being funded by Shell Italia E&P S.p.A. (Shell) under the farm-in arrangement announced in December 2008.

Shell holds 55% in G.R17.NP and 70% in G.R20.NP, G.R21.NP and G.R22.NP.

“The West Sicily Thrust Belt is part of the major thrust system incorporating large oil fields in the Southern Apennines and continues into Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. Northern considers it prospective for both oil and gas. This survey will be processed and interpretation undertaken to enable prospects to be defined for a drilling decision later this year,” said managing director Derek Musgrove.

The seismic acquisition has been contracted to Petroleum Geo-Services Asia Pacific-Pte Limited.

The joint venture between the two companies currently covers six offshore licences,  G.R17.NP, G.R18.NP, G.R19.NP, G.R20.NP, G.R21.NP and G.R22.NP, making for a total area of 4,350 sq km in which a 2,300 km 2D seismic survey was recorded earlier this year.

Last week, Northern Petroleum brought its Geesbrug gas field in the Netherlands on stream to add 307 billion cubic feet of gas to production, marking the start of what it said will be a period of “satisfying revenue growth".

Earlier this week it completed drilling of the Tiendeveen-1 exploration well at the Drenthe III license in the Netherlands, looking to add to the production and reserves of the nearby Grolloo and Geesbrug fields.

Once the Netherlands projects come on stream, Northern’s operating cash flow is expected to increase, enabling a more active forward programme. The company is currently planning eight wells to test exploration and appraisal targets in Italy, the Netherlands and the UK.

Disclosure: The author holds no positions in the company