Chevron has become the first oil major to have a stake in the Moroccan upstream. The US firm is to take a 75% operators’ stake in three virgin deepwater offshore blocks. Moroccan state firm ONHYM will retain its customary 25%. The Cap Cantin Deep and the Cap Walidia Deep blocks lie offshore from the town of Safi, halfway between Agadir and Casablanca. The former corresponds to blocks ‘D’ and ‘E’ in ONHYM’s list of open blocks, whilst the latter, further offshore, was not even included in ONHYM’s 2012 list of 20 open areas – an indication of how interest in the Moroccan deepwater has picked up in recent months. The third block, Cap Rhir Deep (formerly Blocks ‘M’ and ’O’) is further south around 100km offshore Agadir. The blocks are in water depths of 100ms-4,500ms. The US firm will shoot seismic and conduct studies under the terms of the initial deal, part of Chevron’s aims “to advance our growth strategy in frontier basins.”

2013 is set to be Moroccan exploration’s busiest year. Deepwater offshore blocks have been a focus with companies spurred by geological similarities with giant finds further south along the West Africa coast – such as the 85,000 b/d Jubilee field offshore Ghana. (CONTINUED - 290 WORDS)