UK-based oil and gas explorer, Europa Oil & Gas, has started a 3D seismic acquisition programme in the South Porcupine Basin, offshore of Ireland.

As part of the programme the Irish Government awarded Europa frontier exploration licenses (FELs) 2/13 and 3/13, covering an area of about 750km².

The undrilled licenses have been mapped using existing 2D seismic data.

Kosmos, as an operator, has agreed to convert licensing options (LO) 11/07 and 11/08 into FELs to bring forward the acquisition of 3D seismic into the summer of 2013.

The company has secured the M/V Polarcus Amani vessel from seismic contractor Polarcus to acquire 3D seismic and obtained permits for the programme from the Irish Government.

Each FEL will last for a period of 15 years and has been divided into a maximum of four phases.

Under the first phase, which lasts for three years, Europa intends to acquire 740km² of 3D seismic on each license, while in the second phase, which will last four years, the company is planning to drill an exploration well on each license.

"Each FEL will last for a period of 15 years and has been divided into a maximum of four phases."

Kosmos will operate the FELs by holding 85% interest, while Europa will hold the remaining 15% interest.

Europa CEO, Hugh Mackay, said the early award of the full licences, along with the immediate commencement of the 3D seismic acquisition programme, clearly demonstrates Kosmos’s intent to actively pursue in the South Porcupine basin similar Cretaceous plays to those that it pioneered in the Atlantic Margin basins offshore of West Africa.

"Out of all the licensing options awarded in the 2011 Atlantic Margin Licensing Round, the three operated by Kosmos, two of which Europa has a 15% interest in, are the first to be converted into FELs," Mackay added.

As per the farm-in agreement signed in April 2013, Kosmos will fully fund the costs of a 3D seismic programme in the first phase of each FEL and pay 85% of costs incurred by Europa to date.

In the second phase of the FEL, which includes drilling, Kosmos will incur 100% of the costs of the first exploration well on each FEL.

Image: Kosmos has secured M/V Polarcus Amani vessel to acquire 3D seismic. Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.