Oct. 20 (UPI) -- While looking for partners to join in, Australian energy company Melbana said it was positioned for an early start to an oil drilling program in Cuba next year.
Melbana is one of the few foreign companies, and the only one listed on the Australian exchange, with a footprint in Cuba. The company was able to secure millions of dollars in a capital drive this year, but fell short of its goals. Funds raised this year are to support a drilling campaign in Cuba next year.
"While the company intends to undertake a farm out process to potentially assist funding the drilling phase, Melbana is positioned to complete initial preparations for the planned Cuba drilling program in 2018," Chairman Andrew Purcell said in a statement for the company's annual review.
The company described its so-called Block 9 onshore basin in Cuba as "one of the world's most exciting" opportunities, with an estimated 637 million barrels of recoverable oil. There are more than a dozen individual sites that Melbana sees as high-impact drilling sites.
The company already completed a work program for its Block 9 basin in Cuba, which involved geological surveys of the area, and said it's ready to move on to an exploratory phase. By August, the company already had local contractors working with its personnel to get a proposed well location ready for future operations.
Cost obligations moved lower for the company when Petro Australis Ltd. exercised a right to move into its Cuban acreage by taking on a 40 percent participating interest in the Block 9 production sharing contract. Through the arrangement, Petrol Australis assumed 40 percent of the costs associated with future operations.
Crude oil prices have held up above the $50 per barrel mark for most of the latter half of 2017 and Purcell said that stability is "exactly what the sector needed" to attract capital.
Hurricane Irma battered the north of Cuba as a Category 3 storm in early September before turning north for its run up Florida's western coast. Melbana gave no indication that its license areas on the northern shores of Cuba were damaged by the storm.