Total, a French oil and gas major, has begun taking steps to execute an exploration well in French Guiana, adding to the new wave of exploration being done in the southern Caribbean. Total is also hoping to mirror some success in the Guyana Basin like U.S. oil and gas major, Exxon. 

According to Offshore Energy Today, Total has filed an application with the Prefecture of Guiana to drill an offshore exploration well in early 2019. 

French Guiana lies to the south of Suriname where other drilling prospects are being sized up by Kosmos, Apache and Tullow. 

The French Guiana maritime permit extends over more than 24,000 km2 beyond the Guianese continental shelf and largely in the deep-sea area. Total’s planned drilling project in early 2019 is located about 150km from the nearest coast and 170km from Cayenne. 

Total, however, ran into some controversy with the environmental body, Greenpeace, over environmental concerns about drilling in the proposed site. Total has responded by confirming that in preparation for the drilling operation, a detailed study of the initial environmental state was conducted. 

The findings were attached to the application for drilling authorisation. 

They have also indicated that the drilling campaign is limited to four months with an aim to confirm the possible presence of hydrocarbons before deciding on a possible phase of development and exploitation. 

Earlier this year, Total also verified that it has signed agreements to acquire interests in two exploration licenses offshore Guyana — the Canje Block and the Kanuku Block. 

A release from the company said that, ‘These agreements come after entering into an option agreement for the nearby Orinduik Block. Subject to the approval of relevant authorities, Total will thus own exploration rights to an area covering over 12,000 square kilometers in the Guyana Basin’. 

The release added that Total acquired a 35 per cent working interest in the Canje Block, located in water depths of 1,700 to 3,000 metres under the terms of the agreement signed with an affiliate of Canadian company, JHI Associates, Inc., and Guyana-based company, Mid-Atlantic Oil & Gas, Inc. These two companies will retain a shared 30 per cent interest alongside operator ExxonMobil (35 per cent). 

According to the release, Total acquired a 25 per cent working interest in the Kanuku Block, located in water depths of 70 to 100 metres under the terms of the agreement signed with operator, Repsol (37.5 per cent), and will be a partner alongside Tullow (37.5 per cent). 

Total holds an option to purchase a 25 per cent working interest in the Orinduik Block, located in water depths of 70 to 100 metres under the terms of the agreement signed in September 2017 with an affiliate of Canadian company, Eco Atlantic Oil & Gas Ltd, who will retain a 15 per cent interest following exercise of the option, alongside operator, Tullow (60 per cent). 

To date, Total has not indicated a timeframe for drilling/exploration in the blocks in Guyana. However, it appears that the French company has taken steps to solidify its presence in the region.