Northern Petroleum, Shell Proceed with Seismic Program Off Sicily

Northern Petroleum, together with Shell Italia E&P S.p.A. , will acquire a 3D seismic survey in their joint exploration area offshore Sicily. Shell will fund the prospect defining programme in the joint venture held thrust belt offshore of western Sicily. The joint venture currently covers six offshore licenses -- G.R17.NP, G.R18.NP, G.R19.NP, G.R20.NP, G.R21.NP and G.R22.NP covering a total area of 4350 km² in which a 2300 km 2D seismic survey was recorded earlier this year.

Under the terms of the farm-out agreement, Shell hold 55% in G.R17.NP, G.R18.NP and G.R19.NP; and 70% in G.R20.NP, G.R21.NP and G.R22.NP. Northern will continue as the operator during the seismic phase and Shell will assume operatorship for the drilling phase.

Commenting on the program Derek Musgrove, Managing Director, Northern, said, "This progresses one of the most exciting areas for exploration and material growth for Northern as well as significantly increased expenditure. Shell brings to this venture experience of exploration and production in the southern Italy part of the same Apennine-Mahgrebian Thrust Belt where the major oil fields of Val d'Agri and Tempa Rossa have been developed. The venture can also call upon their international major project and offshore expertise. If drilling is successful it could open up a whole new Western European and North African hydrocarbon province."