Melbana: Cuba has record of oil success

Melbana Energy optimistic about a 2018 drilling program despite capital headwinds.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  Oct. 31, 2017 at 5:57 AM
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Oct. 31 (UPI) -- While funding may complicate its efforts, an Australian energy company targeting Cuban oil said it planned to tap prospects with a historic record of success.

Melbana Energy is one of the few Western energy companies, and the only one listed on the Australian stock exchange, with a footprint in Cuba. The company aims to tap the Alameda-1 prospect, which the company said is in an area that has more than 630 million recoverable barrels of oil at the high end.

"While characterized as an exploration well, the chance of success at Alameda-1 benefits from two old wells, Marti-2 and Marti-5, both of which recovered oil from the objectives targeted in Alameda-1," the company explained.

In an update on quarterly activity, the company said it estimated it would cost at least $10 million to drill two wells in Cuba. On Monday, a partnership agreement with Petro Australis Ltd. fell apart because of the lack of approval from regulatory authorities. That left Melbana with a 100 percent stake in Cuban operations and without a partner that would carry 40 percent of the drilling costs.

The company said Tuesday it was looking for new partners after raising $5 million in a capital drive earlier this year.

"We continue to progress towards drilling that is targeted to commence mid-2018 in our world-class exploration opportunity in Block 9, onshore Cuba," Managing Director and CEO Peter Stickland said in a statement.

Quarterly progress in Cuba included advances on engineering and permitting processes. 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.

Petro Australis Ltd. had no comment on the end of the partnership agreement in Cuba. It had until Sept. 2 to exercise its right, but failed to obtain the proper regulatory qualifications from the Cuban government.

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