Oil Exploration Makes A Tentative Return To Alsace Region
Merkwiller-Pechelbronn, France, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Sustainably high oil prices have lured small oil explorers back to Alsace, the cradle of the French oil exploration industry that gave birth to corporate giants such as Schlumberger.
The activity near the Rhine on the German border does not amount to an oil boom. The region provides 1 percent of French oil production, which is just under 2 percent of European output.
Nonetheless, 13 wells are pumping, two exploration permits have recently been granted and more are being reviewed by the French administration.
"For us, Alsace was a sleeping beauty," said Stephane Touche, whose company Millennium Geo-Venture holds the two recent exploration permits and has applied for five more.
Among its advantages, the region's oil reserves are already completely mapped and are very close to the surface. Oil leaks have long provided a favourite mud-bath playground for wild boars in the Alsatian forest.
Oil production in Alsace started in the 18th century and peaked in the 1920s, when more than 650 wells and four refineries supplied 5 percent of French oil needs and provided work for 3,000 people around Merkwiller-Pechelbronn, 50 km north of Strasbourg.
In that era, the Schlumberger brothers carried out the first electrical well log and created the company.
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