Canadian oil firm Sonoro Energy has identified more than 1.2 billion barrels of heavy oil in place at its initial prospect in its license area in the Salah al-Din region of northern Iraq.

Announcing the findings of an independent evaluation report in a 26 July company release, Sonoro says there are approximately 1.23 billion barrels of original asphalt, or heavy oil in place, as well as contingent resources of approximately 141 million barrels.

Contingent resources are defined as quantities of petroleum estimated to be potentially recoverable from known accumulations, but the applied projects are not yet considered mature enough for commercial development. The report was prepared by independent reserves auditor, RPS Energy Canada.

Sonoro expects to commence drilling operations of three appraisal wells into this prospect in September 2011, although civil and drilling rig contracts have not yet been finalised. The company was granted an investment permit in April from the provincial government to begin development after signing a five-year exploration agreement (MEED 27:4:11).

Sonoro holds a 70 per cent working interest in the entire licence, with the US’ Berkeley Petroleum Mesopotamia Asphalts Limited holding the remaining 30 per cent.