We've learned a lot about petroleum basins around the Atlantic the last few years.
Most notably the massive oil finds off the east coast of Brazil. Which have spurred exploration for look-alike pools along the geologically once-nearby coast of southwest Africa, in places like Namibia.
But one part of the Atlantic has remained more elusive: the U.S. east coast. The region has long been officially closed to petroleum exploration. Meaning we know little about the geology and hydrocarbon potential of this "secret coast".
But major oil firms are moving to change this. At least in more-accessible parts of the north Atlantic.
That was the message this week when BP announced it will farm into offshore exploration blocks in Morocco.
The major will earn a non-operating interest in three blocks here from Africa specialists Kosmos Energy. To do so, BP will carry Kosmos on drilling costs for at least one well on each of the three licenses areas.
If Namibia is the African answer to Brazil, Morocco may be the analogue to offshore eastern North America. Discussing the BP deal, news service Interfax quoted exploration staff from fellow Moroccan explorer Cairn Energy as saying the country's basins may bear as much similarity to Nova Scotia as to West Africa.
This could be part of the reason BP is intrigued. If Morocco really does provide a "sneak peak" at geology similar to the North American east coast around Nova Scotia, drilling here would be testing relatively unknown plays. Creating potential for big discoveries.
There have already been good indications in the area. Just last month, Statoil said it has discovered up to 600 million barrels of oil at its Bay Du Nord prospect, off the east coast of Newfoundland. Given the lack of drilling to the south of this spot, similar discoveries could be lurking--including those in look-alike basins across the Atlantic in northeast Africa.
It will be interesting to see what Moroccan drilling finally shows us about this secret petroleum frontier.
Here's to going coastal,
By. Dave Forest