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Drilling in Uruguay began in 1954. Several dry wells were completed in the onshore Norte Basin up to 1958 followed by a long period of inactivity. From 1985 to 1987 five further wells were drilled but with no success. A number of stratigraphic wells have been drilled more recently in addition to some shallow tests for shale oil.
Only 2 offshore exploratory wells have been drilled, both in 1976 in the Punta Del Este basin. However, Total will be drilling the Raya exploration prospect in Block 14 in the deep waters of the Pelotas Basin in 2016. This is expected to be the world’s deepest water exploration well at 3,400 m.
Despite this new activity the region remains high risk with limited well data and no discoveries. Combined with the effect of lower oil prices Globalshift forecasts no oil or gas production from the country, onshore or offshore, at least in the short and medium term.
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The first offshore licensing round was held in 2009 (Uruguay Round 1 2009). Eleven blocks were available but only 2 were awarded with no well commitments (Areas 3 and 4) both to YPF. Shell farmed-in to these blocks but has since pulled out.
Uruguay Round 2 followed signature of contracts for Round 1 and completion of extensive multi-client geophysical surveys. The Round called for bids for 15 offshore areas in September 2011. Data on the blocks were sold by ANCAP who received 19 offers for eight of the 15 blocks offered, from 9 companies in March 2012.
The awarded areas are located in all 3 offshore basins. Areas 6, 11 and 12 were awarded to BP, areas 8, 9 and 13 were awarded to BG, area 14 was awarded to Total and area 15 was awarded to Tullow. Statoil has farmed into the Tullow block. Commitments included a deep water exploration well to be drilled by Total in Block 14 and extensive seismic surveys over a 3-year period, with optional further periods. BP has since relinquished its areas.
Uruguay Round 3 is due to be launched soon. Onshore licensing operates as an open door system.
URUGUAY: OFFSHORE BLOCKS
Globalshift.co.uk (source: www.rondauruguay.gub.uy)