By Isabel Ordonez
Exxon Mobil Corp. said Monday the Turkish government approved an agreement between Exxon and Turkish oil company TPAO to explore two deepwater blocks in the Black Sea.
The move would help Exxon Mobil, the largest U.S. oil company by market value, to expand its presence in the Black Sea, an area considered a frontier for exploration that is becoming increasingly attractive as oil-rich nations around the world become more restrictive.
The Irving, Texas, company said in November it signed an agreement with TPAO, but the deal still needed the blessing of Turkeyâ€™s government.
Turkey is a net importer of oil and it is accelerating its efforts to find oil in the Black Sea and become energy independent. The government hopes that the Black Sea turns out to be like the Caspian Sea, rich in oil reserves.
Exxon Mobil will be the operator of the project for the initial exploration phase, taking a 50% stake in the two-million-acre Samsun block and the eastern part of the five-million-acre 3921 block. Water depths for the blocks reach about 6,500 feet.
In December Exxon Mobil announced that it had further expanded its presence in the Black Sea by signing an agreement with Romanian oil company Petrom to explore deepwater portions of the Neptun Block off Romania.