Exploration/Development news briefs, Dec. 27

TotalFinaElf SA joined Repsol-YPF SA and BG Group PLC to explore the offshore blocks CAA-39, CAA-40, and CAA-46, between Tierra del Fuego and Islas Malvinas. The area is called the Argentinean Cuenca Austral. The blocks are in 500 m of water more than 150 km from the nearest coastline. Also, BG Group PLC transferred its 100% stake in the Barranca Yankowsky area in the Golfo San Jorge basin in Chubut province, Argentina.

Petroleo Brasileiro SA and partner Horizon Oil signed a production-sharing contract with the government of Nigeria for OPL 324 in the deepwater Niger Delta. Petrobras will operate the block with 75%.

Peruvian authorities approved the environmental impact assessment submitted by Pluspetrol Peru Corp. for the Camisea fields.

BP PLC awarded Caspian Geophysical -- a joint venture of State Oil Co. of Azerbaijan Republic and WesternGeco -- a marine seismic services contract for the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea. Caspian Geophysical will supply marine acquisition and processing services for future seismic projects within any production-sharing agreement areas operated by BP.

Heritage Oil Corp., Calgary, will acquire more than 200 km of 2D seismic data over its Block 3 in Uganda before the end of the year.

Amerada Hess Corp., New York City, confirmed its Oveng oil prospect off Equatorial Guinea with Oveng-2 appraisal well. Oveng Field is 4 miles east of Okume field.

A unit of Royal Dutch/Shell Group struck oil with 3-SHEL-8-RJS on Block BS-4 in the Santos Basin off Sao Paulo state, Brazil. Shell estimates potential resource at 300 million-500 million bbl of 15°-gravity oil. It will now evaluate the area for commerciality, drilling an exploration and an evaluation well.

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