December 20, 2019 / 3:48 PM / a month ago

Energean gets extra year to explore Montenegro's offshore oil and gas blocks

SARAJEVO, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Montenegro, which is hoping to find oil and gas reserves off its coast, said on Friday it has extended Energean Oil & Gas’s licence by a year to explore two blocks as the Greek company required more time.

Montenegro awarded Energean a 30-year oil and gas exploration licence in 2017 for the blocks covering a combined 338 square kilometres in the Adriatic Sea’s shallow waters.

Under the original deal, the research phase was due to last for seven years, with two research periods of three and four years.

“Considering that the concessionaire needed more time for additional research and that he fulfilled all obligations from the work programme, the extension of the first research period... was approved,” Montenegro’s government said in a statement.

Montenegro, a candidate for European Union membership, produces no oil but initial data has indicated it might have enough untapped reserves to cover its oil and gas needs.

In 2017, it also signed a contract with a consortium of Italy’s Eni and Russian No. 2 gas firm Novatek , awarding it exploration licenses for four blocks covering an area of 1,228 square kilometres.

Montenegro’s search for oil and gas was delayed by the Balkan Wars in the 1990s and it did not start to issue tenders until 2014.

Reporting by Maja Zuvela; Editing by Susan Fenton

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