CALGARY (Dow Jones Newswires), Aug. 2, 2010
BP, Exxon Mobil and Imperial Oil--Exxon's separately traded Canadian subsidiary-- formed a joint venture to explore for oil and gas in Canada's Beaufort Sea, an Imperial Oil spokesman said Friday.
The partners have been working on a deal to share the costs and profits of exploration in the Canadian Arctic since last year, before the disastrous spill from a BP-leased rig in the Gulf of Mexico, Imperial spokesman Pius Rolheiser said.
The two exploration areas, BP's Pokak and Exxon's Ajurak leases, are located between 75 and 90 miles off Canada's north shore, directly north of the city of Inuvik in the Northwest Territories. The drilling leases are located in waters between 200 feet and 4,000 feet deep.
Canada's National Energy Board is conducting a review of offshore drilling operations as a result of the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Imperial Oil will participate in the review, and the joint-venture partners will need regulatory approval before going ahead with their Arctic drilling plans, Rolheiser said.
Exxon and Imperial acquired the Ajurak lease for nearly $600 million in 2007, and BP acquired the Pokak lease as part of a package of other Arctic assets in 2008. Both companies have conducted 3D seismic surveys, but haven't done any exploratory drilling of the sites yet. The news was reported earlier by Reuters.
Exxon and Imperial will each hold a 25% share in the joint venture and will be in charge of the operations; BP will hold the remaining 50% share. The news was reported earlier by Reuters.
Rolheiser said the joint venture is completely unrelated to BP and Exxon's operations in the Alaskan Arctic, and their agreement on the Beaufort doesn't mean they are any closer to reaching an agreement over their separate support for competing natural-gas pipeline projects in Alaska.
Representatives of BP and Exxon weren't immediately available to comment.
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