The existence of "hundreds of millions of barrels" of onshore hydrocarbon reserves in northern Uruguay is "very probable," according to the country's industry minister Roberto Kreimerman.
Exploration results indicate reserves in Paysandú and Tacuarembó departments, Kreimerman said in a government release. Uruguay consumes 1.2Mb-1.5Mb of oil per year.
Citing national oil company Ancap, Kreimerman said the situation looks "very favorable" for conventional resource development in the zone.
The announcement follows news of the first onshore resource certification from Australia-based junior Petrel in the South American country.
Independent oil and gas consulting firm Netherland, Sewell & Associates (NSAI) estimated an unrisked gross prospective resource of up to 1.768Bb of oil (up to 902Mb net to Petrel) in the Salto and Piedra Sola concessions in Uruguay's Norte Basin, Petrel said in a statement.
Petrel operates the licenses with its 51%-owned subsidiary, Schuepbach Energy International. The certification was based on analysis of a 597km 2D seismic acquisition campaign across the concessions, which cover 14,000km2.
"Yet again results have exceeded our expectations with the seismic identifying multiple new large conventional targets and significantly many at relatively shallow depths," said Petrel's managing director David Casey.
Operators have been preparing for Uruguay's third offshore round, expected this year. The last round in 2012 attracted majors including BP, BG, and Total, all of whom were awarded acreage.
Total plans to spud the country's first offshore well this year.
Date: January 14, 2015