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Exploring for Oil in Nicaragua: Friends in High Places

On 17 July, Nicaragua announced that US-based Noble Energy would invest $30 million in drilling two offshore wells in the Caribbean—launching Nicaragua’s first-ever oil exploration. The wells will be drilled in the Tyra and Isabel blocks, which have undergone nearly 5,000 kilometers of seismic surveying since 2011. But Nicaragua’s first exploration will not go off without a hitch—namely, the revival of a nasty territorial dispute with Colombia, and another with Costa Rica.

In all Nicaragua is planning to offer up nearly 68,500 square kilometers of offshore Caribbean territory to explorers, dividing the area up into over 150 blocks.  
  

This brings us to Noble Energy, one of our favorites over the past couple of years, but a company whose exploration bravado could land it in hot water—so we keep a close eye on developments. But here it’s all about who you know and who your friends are—and Noble’s got big friends in high places.

Noble Energy has minimal presence in Latin America, although aside from the Nicaraguan Caribbean, they purchased large areas for potential hydrocarbon exploration off the (also disputed) Falkland Islands (or Islas Malvinas, depending on your audience). Noble has built its company, in part, by drilling in unconventional corners of the globe, and the disputed waters between Colombia and Nicaragua are just such a niche.

Although Noble Energy is forging…

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