The licenses decreed are the re-designated G.R20.NP (formerly d23GR.-NP), G.R21.NP (formerly d22GR.-NP) and G.R22.NP (formerly d24GR.-NP), all of which are located offshore adjacent to Northern's existing G.R17.NP, G.R18.NP and G.R19.NP licenses. NPUK is the Operator of the three licenses in which a subsidiary of PLUS quoted ATI Oil Plc ('ATI') also has a 50% interest.
The additional licenses are also located in the Apennine-Maghreb thrust belt offshore in Italian waters west of Sicily and adjacent to the Tunisian boundary. Anadarko, Petro-Canada and Shell hold interests in the equivalent structural setting across the border in Tunisia. The enlarged area, now comprising 4,370 kmē, is believed to have the requisite factors to be a significant petroleum province as has been established within a thrust belt setting elsewhere in Italy.
Chris Foss, Finance Director at Northern, commented:
'The decree of these three licenses that are adjacent to our existing west of Sicily acreage enables us to progress our exploration efforts over an expanded area. The interpretation of the results of our seismic survey completed in November 2006 on the three existing thrust belt licenses shows the potential for many prospects that individually could contain reserves of a billion barrels of oil.
'Northern and ATI will be further presenting the now expanded licensed areas to potential farmin partners next month on completion of the processing and mapping of the seismic data acquired last year. The timing of these decrees is opportune.'
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