France’s Total has identified three oil and gas prospects in its Block BC (Pre-Khuff) exploration licence in Qatar.

The prospects are based on the shape of the subsurface formations, says Bertrand Becaud, technical manager at Total Exploration & Production, which is exploring the block located 130 kilometers off Qatar’s coast along with its partner, China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC).

Speaking at MEED’s Qatar Projects conference in Doha, Becaud says the acquisition of approximately 1,500 kilometres of 2D seismic data will begin this year as part of a $100m work commitment. The offshore license area covers 5,649 square kilometres in waters at depths of between 15 to 35 metres.

“Qatar is not very big. The North field is, but all the easiest targets have been explored. The question now is what is below the Khuff. This is why QP [state-owned Qatar Petroleum] offered the blocks,” says Becaud.

Under the 5-year exploration and production sharing agreement (EPSA) signed in 2009, Total and CNOOC will carry out 2D and 3D seismic surveys and drilling at at least three exploration wells by 2014.

Total acquired a 25 per cent stake in the exploration block from CNOOC in June 2011. CNOOC is the operator of the block.

UK-Dutch oil major, Shell is also currently conducting a seismic survey of its Block D concession, which covers 8,000 square kilometres both onshore and offshore. Shell joined another state-owned Chinese oil firm, Petrochina in a 30 year natural gas EPSA in May 2010.