The matter of digging Palau’s seabed in search of natural resources and minerals for exploration and exploitation has been debated and discussed extensively for years.
But with the 2011 Petroleum Act of Palau in place, more about one company is now investing roughly $12 to $15 million for a test drill that will determine the amount of hydrocarbons in the Velasco Reef, Kayangel state.
Applications for a permit from Environmental Quality Protection Board (EQPB) and the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Industries and Commerce including other supporting documents have been submitted.
This project called Northstar-1X Exploration Test Well will reportedly be done safely with little to no impact to the environment using a self-contained state-of-the-art modern drillship.
Palau Energy Pte. Limited (PE), a company both registered in Palau and Singapore is leading this project, and has subcontracted a multimillion-dollar vessel to conduct the exploration in an area called the Palau North Bank.
During the meetings with stakeholders early last week, Smith expressed that there is a 5% success for natural gas or oil in the site or 95% of nothing but water and mud.
Once permits for exploration are approved, PE proposes to begin in late February when the drillship, Norshore Atlantic, is available. He says it will take roughly 7 days for the drillship to reach Palau for the 15-day exploration before returning directly back to Singapore. Refueling, dumping of waste or vessel fluids will not occur in the drilling site. The drillship is designed to recycle fuel, oil and other fluids.
PE also emphasized that this project is not a production as many speculates, but a test to determine whether oil or natural gas exists in this area.
Howard James Smith, Managing Director of PE told OTV that data collected during the drilling will be combined with previous geological data, which will determine the amount of hydrocarbons in the Palau North Bank block. He says this process will take about 3 to 4 months.