Trinidad Signs MOU with 12 Exploration Companies

Twelve international exploration companies signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Trinidad and Tobago to carry out seismic exploration for oil in ultra-deep waters, Energy Minister Eric Williams said. The companies, which include three newcomers to Trinidad, will contribute up to $500,000 to underwrite the cost of acquiring geological and geophysical data in water depths of 5,610 and 9,900 feet off Trinidad's east coast in what is regarded as the Caribbean nation's last unexplored area. Among the 12 companies that signed on to the deal are Agip, BHP Billiton, BP, TotalFinaElf, EOG Resources, Norsk Hydro, Repsol, Talisman and Shell. The three companies new to Trinidad are Phillips, Statoil, and PDVSA.

Williams said in return for their respective involvement in the data collection, the companies will have access to the information and will be able to participate in competitive bidding when the acreage over which the data is acquired is offered. "These companies have the advantage in that the data will not be made available to non-participants prior to 12 months from the date of completion of the project and the non-participants will have to pay considerably more for the data," he said. The data acquisition is scheduled for completion in the next three months. Williams said he expects government to offer the acreage for competitive bidding within two years.