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Although oil concessions were granted in Honduras as far back as 1916, exploration did not begin until 1957 when international companies began to conduct geological surveys, magnetic and gravity surveys and acquired modest amounts of seismic data.
Around 10 exploratory wells were drilled onshore up to 1966 followed by 10 wells offshore up to 1979. All were dry or had minor shows with the exception of the Main Cape-1 offshore well from which 15 bbls of oil were recovered. No offshore wells have been started since 1979.
Since 2009 a number of international companies have expressed interest in exploration, particularly in the northeast offshore Mosquitia and Patuca Basins. Contracts were delayed as a new hydrocarbon law was written but initial exploration activity was beginning in 2013 when the oil price began to decline. No drilling has yet been conducted and Globalshift forecasts no oil or gas production from the country in the short or medium term.
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Honduras forms the central part of the Chortis continental block that includes southern Guatemala, El Salvador and most of Nicaragua. The Cocos Pacific Plate has been subducting under the south coast of Chortis from early Mesozoic time to the present whilst Caribbean ocean crust has been subducted under the north coast from the late Mesozoic.
Regional subsidence during the early Cretaceous was responsible for thick carbonate platforms in the central Yojoa Basin and the offshore northeastern Mosquitia Basin. Albian carbonates are the prime potential source rocks offshore. Reservoir rocks may be fractured Albian limestones sealed by Upper Cretaceous and Paleogene shales. However, Neogene rifting associated with renewed plate movement has uplifted a large part of the Chortis block and probably breached most of the structures.
Globalshift believes that the Mosquitia and neighbouring Patuca Basins may still have potential offshore along the northeast coast. Here Tertiary sediments overlie two shelf areas with thick Albian carbonates. Structures are present on seismic data and oil has been recovered from a limestone bed in the Main Cape-1 well drilled in 1973. Onshore, in the Caribbean coastal areas, oil and gas seeps have also been reported.