Petrobras-Led Group Begins Drilling Offshore Colombia

BOGOTA, Uganda Sep 13, 2007 (Dow Jones Newswires)

A group led by Brazilian oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PBR), or Petrobras, started drilling an exploration well in the Colombian offshore Tayrona block located off the Caribbean coast, Mines and Energy Minister Hernan Martinez said Thursday.

"The company started drilling in Tayrona this morning at 3 a.m.," Martinez said.

Petrobras teamed with ExxonMobil Corp. (XOM) and state-owned Colombian oil company Ecopetrol SA to explore the area, which may contain as much as 10 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves, according to Armando Zamora, the head of Colombia's hydrocarbons agency.

Petrobras, which runs the operations, holds a 40% stake in the venture, while Exxon holds 40% and Ecopetrol holds 20%.

Commodities conglomerate BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) will explore the Fuerte Norte and Fuerte Sur Caribbean offshore blocks, which also could contain significant reserves of gas, Zamora said.

If these reserves yield a minimum of 5 trillion cubic feet or 6 trillion cubic feet of gas, that would be sufficient for Colombia to develop gas liquefaction facilities to enable the export of gas via tanker to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Copyright (c) 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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