May 16, 2014 / 2:13 PM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-Morocco says Longreach gas drilling in Sidi Mokhtar encouraging

(Add details and background)

RABAT, May 16 (Reuters) - Moroccan authorities said on Friday gas drilling by Longreach had found encouraging signs in the Kamar-1 well, located at Sidi Moktar, near the city of Essaouira.

The announcement by the Office of Hydrocarbons and Mining (ONHYM) was the most positive result so far since Morocco started to award dozen of permits to foreign oil companies in the past few years to develop its energy resources.

“The drilling has encountered signs of gas in two levels inside a Jurassic formation,” ONHYM said in a statement carried by the state news agency MAP.

Drilling started on March 20 and ended on May 8, at a depth of 2,790 metres.

Morocco is planning to drill around 30 oil and gas wells in 2014 as part of the kingdom’s expansion of exploration.

The country has been helped by its relative stability compared with other North African countries and by increasing indications of potential offshore and onshore reserves.

It has succeeded in attracting companies such as Chevron , Cairn Energy and BP, which have been awarded contracts by ONHYM.

U.S Chevron said earlier this month it needed at least two and a half years to gather seismic data before deciding whether to stay in Morocco. (Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Mark Potter and David Evans)

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