EBN, the Dutch State owned oil and gas company, participates in the exploration and production of most of the hydrocarbons in the Netherlands. Offshore, the licensee has the option to invite EBN to participate in the exploration stage. However the oil ministry will regardless, require a 40% participation of EBN if a discovery is made, whereby a production license is issued unless participation of EBN is financially disadvantageous to the Dutch State. EBN is not a license holder and will neither carry out exploration activities on its own initiative nor will it act as principal.
The interests in the four exploration licenses will now be Ascent Resources with 27%; Energie Beheer Nederland with 40%; McLaren Resources with 27% and GTO Limited with 6%.
The applications for the P4, M8, M10 and M11 exploration licenses, which cover an area of 795 square kilometers, were made following the analysis of seismic and exploration data purchased from the Netherlands Institute of Applied Geoscience ("TNO"). The technical work focuses on the newly recognised Carboniferous exploration plays as well as the traditional Rotliegend plays.
Within the M11 license area, the M11-01 well, drilled by NAM (Shell-ESSO Netherlands) in 1982, discovered gas and was tested at a rate of 6,600 cubic meters per day (233 Mscfd) from the Upper Slochteren sandstones of the Rotliegend (as reported by TNO on behalf of the Ministry of Economic Affairs). Within the M10 license area there is a northern extension of the Terschelling Noord field, the exploration of which is operated by NAM in the Terschelling license area to the south.
In the area of M8, M10 and M11, a number of 3-D seismic surveys on open release, have now been loaded and the interpretation of these data, which form the basis for the new exploration work, has now commenced.
Ascent Managing Director Jeremy Eng said, "EBN participates in virtually every oil and gas project in the Netherlands and as such brings invaluable experience as well as unrivalled financial capability. Ascent, as operator of this exploration effort, aims to identify drilling targets as soon as possible and welcomes the support and assistance of EBN."
Ascent Resources has a portfolio of over 20 oil and gas projects across six countries in Europe. The projects are onshore in Italy, Switzerland, Hungary, Spain, Slovenia and offshore Netherlands. In the current drilling campaign, Ascent has already drilled two wells in Hungary, one of which was a gas discovery. The Anagni-1 well, first of two Italian wells, has been temporarily completed as an oil discovery and is to be deepened and tested. The Hontomin-4 well, the first of two wells in Spain is on-going. Two gas exploration wells are scheduled to be drilled in Hungary shortly. Later in the year, high impact gas exploration wells are planned in the Po Valley in Italy and a Switzerland, subject to permitting and rig availability.
Ascent operates Spain's only onshore oilfield where production currently averages over 100 barrels of oil per day.
With the stable European gas market, Ascent's portfolio favours gas over oil and, with the exception of the Netherlands, all of its projects are located onshore where operating and development costs are substantially lower than they are offshore.
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