Orca Exploration Group has commenced drilling operations on the La Tosca-1 well on the Longastrino permit near Alfonsine gas field in Italy's eastern Po Valley basin with its partner and operator, Northern Petroleum.

The well will evaluate the exploration potential of a gas prospect mapped from 3D seismic on the Longastrino Permit.

Orca Exploration said the La Tosca prospect is being drilled using HDI Leonardo Drillmec HH220 rig, and total depth is expected to be reached in up to forty days.

As per the farm-in agreement, the group will pay 100% of the costs of the La Tosca-1 well up to €4.3m and 70% thereafter for the drilling phase, together with back-in costs of €0.6m to earn a 70% interest in the block.

If the well is tested and completed, the company will earn 5% more by paying 100% of the testing costs up to €1.3m and 75% thereafter.

Orca Exploration is engaged in natural gas exploration, development and supply in Tanzania through the wholly-owned subsidiary PanAfrican Energy Tanzania Limited, as well as oil and gas appraisal in Italy.