Spain okays Repsol group to drill offshore Canaries

The government of Spain has passed a law that authorizes exploratory drilling by a group led by Repsol YPF SA in the Atlantic midway between the Canary Islands and Morocco.

A Repsol spokesman said the group plans to drill two wells starting in 2014.

Spain in January 2002 granted Repsol nine blocks that total 6,160 sq km east of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura islands (see map, OGJ, June 24, 2002, p. 38). The blocks lie 60-100 miles off Tarfaya, Morocco, where oil shale deposits represent the nearest known hydrocarbons.

Repsol said the blocks lie in the Sable basin, and the area is also called Fustercasas-Hesperides (OGJ Online, Oct. 21, 2002).

Canarias blocks 1 through 9 are in 700-1,500 m of water 60 km east of the Lanzarote coast. Block interests are Repsol 50%, Woodside Petroleum Ltd. of Australia 30%, and RWE Dea AG 20%.

The Canary Islands regional government opposes the drilling on grounds it could harm tourism, but Repsol said the operation will be conducted under the highest standards.

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