Repsol SA, Spain’s biggest oil company, may begin exploring for natural gas off the country’s southern coast in the Mediterranean Sea as early as February, after winning a two-year extension of its prospecting permit.
The company, which won the renewal in a law published last month, has spent about 19 million euros ($25 million) on seismic studies and authorizations and now expects drilling to cost 41 million euros, spokesman Kristian Rix said in an interview. Rix said he couldn’t estimate exactly when work will begin.
Repsol is one of more than a dozen national and foreign companies seeking approvals to prospect in Spain, which imports about 99 percent of the oil and gas that’s consumed in Europe’s fourth-largest economy. The Siroco gas project lies about 10 kilometers (6 miles) off Mijas, between Malaga and Marbella.
After winning its first exploration permits for Siroco in 2004, the Madrid-based company won environmental approval in 2011. That called for drilling only between February and April, to avoid conflicts with mating and migration of sea animals and the high season for tourism in July and August in Malaga, one of Spain’s most visited provinces by foreign tourists.