July 16, 2012 / 12:37 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Tullow stops Guyana drilling on safety concerns

LONDON, July 16 (Reuters) - British explorer Tullow Oil PLC said it stopped drilling a well off the coast of Guyana due to safety concerns, adding that it had already discovered some oil in the shallower parts of the well.

Tullow and its partners on the well, Canada-based CGX Energy , a division of Argentina's YPF, and Spain's Repsol , were hoping the Jaguar well would strike oil and help open up a new oil province in South America.

"The decision to stop drilling at this point was unanimously agreed by all partners based on safety criteria," said Tullow in a statement on Monday.

Tullow said the well, which it had been drilling for five months and which is on an exploration licence where it has a 30 percent stake, was stopped from going deeper due to the high levels of pressure encountered which the well could not handle.

The Jaguar well was a "high pressure, high temperature" well, the same sort of well as BP's well which caused an explosion in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 and led to the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Samples of light oil were recovered from the well even though it did not reach its deeper main target, Tullow said.

Last year, Tullow made a big oil discovery to the east of Guyana, off the coast of French Guiana, and it hopes to prove its geological theory that the oil-rich west African rocks of Ghana will be replicated across the Atlantic in South America.

Shares in Tullow were down 1.3 percent to 1,414 pence at 1227 GMT, underperforming the European Oil & Gas index which was 0.2 percent lower.

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