Venture Production has been awarded 15 new license interests in the UK 25th Seaward Licensing Round. In each case Venture has been awarded a traditional license and in 12 of these licenses it will be the operator.
The Company will be driving a program of technical review and seismic re-processing across the new portfolio and on two of the new blocks it has already made firm commitments to drill a well by the end of 2012. The new acreage covers both gas and oil prospects in 9 blocks and part-blocks across the southern North Sea and 6 across the central North Sea. Venture was successful in 15 out of its 20 license applications. In addition, a total of 7 other applications in the southern North Sea area have not been finalized, pending further environmental consideration.
In keeping with Venture's model that targets discovered but as yet undeveloped accumulations, four of the licenses contain wells that have previously found oil or gas. The Company's sub-surface team, working in conjunction with its partners, has prioritized those license blocks that it considers to have both the greatest untapped potential and are close to existing infrastructure. In many cases Venture has control over the potential export route, thereby increasing the probability that any drilling success will rapidly lead on to field development and new production.
Venture has a track record of rapidly capitalizing on license round awards. In February 2007, as part of the 24th License Round, Venture was awarded the license to operate block 49/10b containing the Stamford gas discovery. After a successful appraisal/development well this year this new field is due onstream in early 2009. In the 22nd License Round Venture was awarded the license to operate block 48/15b and, after extensive seismic reprocessing, plans to drill an exploration well targeting the Andrea prospect have been put in place for the first quarter 2009.
Mike Wagstaff, Chief Executive, said, "We are delighted to have made a highly successful application for additional UKCS acreage in this latest licensing round. This is by some margin our most active participation in a license round and the result strengthens our UK position. As a committed North Sea player with the balance sheet and access to services and equipment required to follow-on through on licence awards, it is right that we play a leading role.
"Securing 15 out of the 20 blocks we targeted means we've picked up several additional opportunities in and around our existing core areas and the new portfolio of interests contains a significant number of discovered but under-appraised accumulations. This success provides us with a fresh range of relatively low risk targets to drill over the next few years. In particular, we are excited by the award of Block 22/1a next to the newly onstream Chestnut field."
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