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OIL COLUMN – Third time lucky for offshore Morocco?

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Fastnet Oil & Gas (LON:FAST) will be hoping it is third time lucky as Morocco’s nascent offshore oil sector awaits a ‘play opening’ success.

Drilling is now underway on the Kosmos operated Foum Assaka 1 (FM1) exploration well, which was spudded on Sunday March 16. Fastnet has a 9.375% interest in the well, and its share of the costs will be ‘carried’.

It is scheduled to take three months for the well to reach its target depth of 4,000 metres.

Kosmos believes the Eagle prospect, the target of the FA1 well, could contain some 360mln barrels of oil and, given the result of the two other offshore Morocco wells this year, the programme is likely to be closely followed.

Eagle, and the other prospects in the Foum Assaka permit, are of a ‘younger’ age than those targeted in Cairn Energy’s (LON:CNE) Foum Draa well, to the south, which encountered hydrocarbon shows but was ultimately unsuccessful.

Foum Draa was the first area to be drilled in the current campaign offshore Morocco, and as such the result was a disappointment.

The results of the second well, the Juby Maritime, were revealed today after it was plugged and abandoned.

Juby Maritime was also drilled by Cairn, though this well was a partnership with Genel Energy (LON:GENL).

The well confirmed the presence of 110 gross metres of heavy oil reservoir in the one of the two Jurassic targets, though more evaluation is required. The other target, meanwhile, was encountered with limited porosity and analysis of well logs and side wall cores continue.

Genel is also preparing to drill its first operated well offshore Morocco, in the Sidi Moussa permit, and that is expected to get underway in the first half of this year also.

Summing up the outcome of Juby Maritime, Northland Capital analyst Andrew McGeary said: “Whilst obviously not the desired result, this looks to offer some encouragement for Cairn and partners as well as giving further evidence of the petroleum system in the region.”

Meanwhile, the analyst called Fastnet’s FA1 a “key well”, and added: “Operated by Kosmos one of the region’s most successful explorers (Jubilee), this represents a key milestone for Fastnet, a pioneer of Moroccan exploration. It is set to be a busy period for offshore Morocco.”

"We are delighted that drilling has commenced on schedule on the Eagle Prospect,” Paul Griffiths, Fastnet’s managing director, said in a statement on Monday morning.

“The results from the FA-1 well will allow us to further evaluate and potentially de-risk the varied and near-term drilling targets in the Foum Assaka Licence where we and our partners see significant potential upside."

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