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Slovakia exploration bid 'in balance'

Alpine-led joint venture considers exit as protests prevent three-well drilling effort: partner

A proposed exploration effort in Slovakia scheduled for this year could be aborted by partners as prolonged protests by locals continue to prevent drilling work, according to co-venturer JKX Oil & Gas.

A joint venture led by operator Alpine Oil & Gas is now “considering its options with regard to continued activity” in the Central European country as access to and construction of well sites has been blocked for nearly two years by landowners and environmentalists protesting the drilling plans, JKX said in a statement.

The pair were aiming to drill three wells this year on the Medzilaborce licence in the Carpathian foldbelt after completing environmental impact assessments for the planned well locations.

The partner said Alpine was in discussions with the Bratislava authorities “to review the results of the EIAs and secure agreements to allow exploration drilling to take place”.

However, it stated the government has so far failed to intervene to halt protests despite legal mechanisms available to it under mining law.

London-listed JDX holds 25% stakes in the Medzilaborce, Svidnik and Snina exploration licences in north-east Slovakia where a number of shallower prospects have been identified from earlier 2D seismic and magneto-telluric geophysical surveys.