(MENAFN - AFP) Total and ExxonMobil started exploratory drilling on Wednesday for crude deposits in coastal waters off Uruguay, a country totally reliant on imports for its oil.
France's Total and US-based ExxonMobil are piercing the seabed at a depth of 3,400 meters (3,700 yards).
That depth "exceeds the current record" for such exploration, Uruguay's industry ministry said in a statement.
It added that the work would last about three months.
The South American country of three million people is hoping to find hydrocarbon deposits in its territorial waters some 250 kilometers (155 miles) from the coast.
Uruguay motorists pay dearly at the pump. A liter of regular gasoline cost $1.35 on Wednesday.