MONTEVIDEO, May 21 (Reuters) - Energy importer Uruguay may be sitting atop shallow-lying natural gas reserves as well as previously identified oil resources, Uruguayan state oil company ANCAP said on Thursday, citing seismic studies by an Australian firm.
The 2D seismic study by Petrel Energy Limited indicates as much as 910 million barrels of oil and 3.1 trillion cubic feet of gas may lie under the soil in the Salto and Piedra Sola regions, based on a recovery rate of 30 percent on estimated reserves.
ANCAP President Jose Coya said the oil and gas deposits were located at "relatively shallow depths between 1,500 and 2,000 meters."
Petrel Energy is a 51 percent shareholder of Schuepbach Energy International, whose subsidiary in Uruguay is contracted to drill four exploratory wells between 2015 and 2017.
Uruguay's population of 3.3 million consumes about 50,000 barrels of oil per day, so the discovery could represent as much as 22 years of energy self-sufficiency under the midway scenario of 404 million barrels.
Uruguay is building a $1.1 billion liquid natural gas (LNG) regasification plant, though construction has been delayed by design errors.
Reporting by Malena Castaldi; writing by Richard Lough