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    Bahamas Expects to Strike Oil After Cuba Exploration Failed

    Bahamas Expects to Strike Oil After Cuba Exploration Failed
    By Eduard Gismatullin – Apr 19, 2013 2:59 PM GMT+0200

    Bahamas Petroleum Co. (BPC), the only explorer searching for oil off the
    Atlantic archipelago, expects to find crude even after efforts off
    nearby Cuba failed.

    A seismic study by Bahamas Petroleum, or BPC, showed that the Great
    Bahama Bank may have oil at shallower water depths, making it easier to
    drill, and a layer of salt keeping the crude in place, Chief Executive
    Officer Simon Potter said in London.

    BPC is looking for a partner to raise at least $100 million to drill the
    country’s first exploration well in about 27 years. It holds five
    licenses covering more than 4 billion barrels of potential oil resources
    and is seeking three more with Statoil ASA. (STL) The nation in March
    allowed exploration to go ahead on the condition a referendum be called
    before the first oil is pumped.

    “Let’s go and bake the cake, let’s establish commercial reserves,”
    Potter said in an interview. Should a discovery be made, “there’ll be a
    much more positive issue to be managing.”

    Oil extraction off the Bahamas, a tourism-based economy, may help the
    nation reduce its mounting debt burden. Government borrowings rose to 53
    percent of gross domestic product last year from 32 percent in 2007,
    according to a December report by Moody’s Investors Service.

    BPC’s planned well, to be started in about a year’s time, will target a
    “distinct” structure about 12 miles (19 kilometers) from Cuba, Potter said.

    The shares rose 6.1 percent to 5.25 pence as of 1:30 p.m. in London trading.
    Commercial Quantities

    While Cuba’s national oil company, known as Cupet, has been pumping oil
    from the Caribbean island for decades, foreign explorers including
    Repsol SA, Petroliam Nasional Bhd. and Petroleos de Venezuela SA have
    failed to find commercial quantities of crude.

    OAO Zarubezhneft, a Russian state-owned oil producer, suspended drilling
    at its well off Cuba following a technical malfunction, Songa Offshore
    SE (SONG), the rig operator, said April 4. The well is the nearest to
    BPC’s planned drilling location.

    “Zarubezhneft was targeting similar deep” geology, Potter said. There
    are “concerns in Cuba that they won’t have time to get this deep” before
    releasing the rig in June, he said.

    Irina Brichkalevich, a spokeswoman for the Moscow-based company,
    declined immediate comment.

    “It’s the same geology but in a different structural context,” Potter
    said. “We already understand that there is a working hydrocarbon system

    BPC has studied results from the Bahamas’ Doubloon Saxon-1 well, which
    was drilled to 21,740 feet (6,630 meters) in 1986 by a former unit of
    Tenneco Inc. (TEN) That well found oil traces about 25 miles from BPC’s
    planned well location.
    Cash Reserves

    About 15 companies have visited BPC’s data room, open for almost a year,
    to study a partnership. The Isle of Man-based company, which had more
    than $21 million in cash as of Dec. 31, expects renewed interest after
    the Bahamas government gave the go-ahead to exploration.

    Before 2009, BPC was known as Falkland Gold & Minerals Ltd., which
    failed to find economically viable mineral deposits in the South
    Atlantic archipelago.

    To contact the reporter on this story: Eduard Gismatullin in London at