Somalia's Puntland Petroleum Minerals Agency (PPMA) awarded ION Geophysical a contract to acquire 8000km of seismic data covering the entire Somalia Puntland offshore margin.
The move, by the semi-autonomous region, could help pave the way to a return to exploration offshore Somalia, which was halted in the 1990s under a force major after civil war broke out in 1991.
Offshore drilling on the shelf regions of the Gulf of Aden and the Eastern Shelf of Puntland during the 1970’s and 1980’s by Shell, ELF-Somalia, AGIP and OXY proved disappointing. Eight wells were drilled in Offshore Puntland with no commercial hydrocarbons were found.
But, new plays are now being assessed, particularly following the significant discoveries off neighboring Tanzania, Mozambique, and Kenya. Since 2012, when the country's first internationally recognized Federal Government was formed, operators are once again looking at the country's potential. However, maritime border disputes are ongoing in the region.
The regional 2D multi-client survey, known as PuntlandSPANTM, is being conducted to support a future license round initiative and to assist the exploration and production industry in gaining a better understanding of the architecture of the sedimentary basin and the hydrocarbon potential of this unexplored offshore margin, says ION. Data acquisition is expected to begin in Q4 2015.
In addition, PPMA announced the demarcation of its offshore territory into 25 exploration blocks covering 180,000sq km of the Somalia Puntland seaboard. In total, there are seven Blocks in the Gulf of Aden and 18 Blocks in the Indian Ocean that have been defined. Block sizes range from 5000sq km in the inshore area to 25,000sq km in deeper water.
Dr. Issa Farah, the Director of the PPMA, says: "The creation of the Block scheme is an important milestone in the development of oil and gas exploration within the jurisdiction of the autonomous State of Puntland. The PPMA is pleased to announce the availability of these blocks and looks forward to engaging with the industry to discuss their plans for the region."
Joe Gagliardi, Senior Vice President of ION's Ventures group, added: "We are very pleased to assist the PMAA in demarcating a block boundary scheme, which heralds an important step in their preparation for future licensing rounds offshore Puntland. The acquisition of the PuntlandSPAN data will provide valuable insight into the petroleum prospectivity of the region, and we are pleased to be a part of this ground-breaking program."