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Surface oil seeps and asphalt occurrences were identified in central Portugal within the Lusitanian basin in the 19th century and asphalt and bitumen have been mined at several locations.
The basin has since been the site of periodic oil and gas exploration activity since the late 1930s. Early shallow drilling focused on salt-related surface structures associated with oil seeps. Oil shows and minor oil recovery was reported but no commercial production could be established. Onshore drilling ceased in 1963 and did not resume until 1981.
In 1969 international companies began regional seismic, gravity, and magnetic surveys offshore and concessions were awarded in the early 1970s, leading to the drilling of 19 wells through to 1982 but only 3 wells have been drilled since then. Oil and gas shows were recorded and live oil was recovered from 2 wells but no commercial oil or gas fields were identified.
Mohave Oil and Gas commenced a study of the oil and gas potential of onshore Portugal in early 1992 and acquired 3 onshore licenses in the northern part of the basin in 1993 and 2 additional licenses in 1997. Four wells were drilled but no discoveries made.
In 2002 the government offered 14 deepwater blocks for exploration and production contracts. After the licensing round expired only Repsol-YPF, in partnership with RWE, made bids for Blocks 13 and 14. In 2007 Petrogal (Galp) licensed 3 deep water blocks in the Alentejo basin with Petrobras. Petrobras relinquished its rights in 2014 which were taken by ENI. A regional reprocessing of seismic data was undertaken in 2015 but no offshore wells have been drilled since 1995 and Globalshift does not forecast any future production of oil or gas from the country.
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