Cuba could be a game changer, Australian oil company says

Cuban-Americans celebrate the death of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro in the streets of Little Havana in Miami, Florida, Nov. 26, 2016. Castro died in Cuba on Nov. 25, 2016, at the age of 90. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

June 6 (UPI) — An Australian company with a focus on Cuban onshore oil potential said success at just one of its operations there could make the company.

Australia’s Melbana Energy Ltd. is one of the few Western oil companies, and the only one listed on the Australian exchange, with active oil and gas operations underway in Cuba.

Working in its Block 9 onshore acreage, the company last year estimated its Cuban portfolio contains 637 million barrels of prospective recoverable reserves. The company said Monday that a site visit revealed its Alameda and Zapato well sites were encouraging, accessible and on pace for drilling during the first half of next year.

“Melbana is now focused on the detailed planning phase to support our ambition of a two-well drilling campaign commencing in approximately 12 months,” CEO Peter Stickland said in a statement. “The two highest priority targets have a combined exploration potential of over 200 million barrels of recoverable oil, meaning success in just one of the wells would be a company maker for Melbana.”

Last year, the company said the availability of funding was its main focus for its Cuban program. More funding could come from capital injections, share placements or farm-ins to some of its prospects.

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. It had about $2.7 million in cash on hand as of March 31.

Melbana added that it was on the ground in Cuba, working to engage consultant firms there on the future potential.

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