Exploration/Development news briefs, Dec. 27

TotalFinaElf ... Repsol-YPF ... BG Group ... Petroleo Brasileiro SA ... Horizon Oil ... Pluspetrol Peru ... BP ... Caspian Geophysical ... Heritage Oil ... Amerada Hess ... Shell

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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