State oil company Entreprise Tunisienne des Activites Petrolieres (ETAP) has signed up international partners for two prospection permits and an exploration permit as part of its drive to accelerate the development of its upstream oil and gas sector.

A consortium of ETAP and US-based Rigo Oil signed at the end of February a four-year permit to explore the 1,616-square-kilometre Bazma field near Kebili in the centre of the country. The permit will be 100 per cent operated by ETAP. Rigo will invest a minimum of $3.5 million and undertake a works programme including the drilling of one exploration well and the reprocessing and interpretation of existing seismic data.

Two offshore prospecting licences in the north have been awarded to a consortium of ETAP, the US’ Anadarko Petroleum Corporation and PetroCanada. The first two-year prospecting licence covers the 7,648-square-kilometre Bechateur field in which the operator Anadarko will invest at least $2.84 million. The minimum work programme includes the acquisition and processing of 1,000 kilometres of 2D seismic and the reprocessing and interpretation of existing seismic data.

The consortium has also been awarded a two-year prospecting permit for the 7,476-square-kilometre Cap Serrat field. Anadarko will invest a minimum of $1.17 million to reprocess and interpret existing seismic data and acquire 500 kilometres of 2D seismic. ETAP will have a 50 per cent interest in both permits, with Anadarko holding 33.3 per cent and PetroCanada 16.7 per cent.