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Fast-track drilling for Cuba envisioned

Australian energy company Melbana said conditions ripe for action in oil prospects in Cuba.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Fast-track drilling for Cuba envisioned
Australian energy company Melbana said it aims to accelerate plans for drilling at its oil prospects in Cuba. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

April 26 (UPI) -- The necessary components for an accelerated drilling program for oil prospects in Cuba may already be in place, Australian energy company Melbana said.

Melbana Energy Ltd. estimated last year that Block 9 in Cuba holds 637 million barrels of prospective recoverable reserves and 19 drilling prospects there were described by the company as high impact and low risk. Its highest ranked drilling opportunity is the Alameda-1 well, with an estimated 400 million barrels of recoverable oil on the high side of Melbana's estimates.

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Melbana is one of the few Western oil companies, and the only one listed on the Australian exchange, with a footprint in Cuba. CEO Peter Stickland said the company had about $2.7 million in cash on hand as of March 31 that it would use in part to develop its drilling program in Cuba.

In its latest statement, the company said it was focused on accelerating the program in Cuba, which outlines two new wells during the first half of 2018. Melbana said it "concluded that the appropriate equipment, experienced personnel and support services necessary to safely and effectively undertake a drilling program can be expected to be available in Cuba."

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The company estimated its drilling campaign for 2018 would cost about $30 million at the high end and it was now in the process of a detailed contractor evaluation.

The national oil company of Cuba, CUPET, extended its contract last year for early exploration efforts in Block 9 by eight months to November 2017.

In its second-half 2016 report, Melbana said adequacy of funding was its main focus. More funding could come from capital injections, share placements or farm-ins to some of its prospects.

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