Austral Pacific starts development drilling in Cheal oil field

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Oct. 12 -- Austral Pacific Energy Ltd. has started drilling the first of four development wells in Cheal oil field in New Zealand's Taranki basin.

Cheal is in Petroleum Mining Permit 38156. Austral Pacific of Wellington, NZ, holds a 36.5% interest and is the operator.

The four wells will be drilled in the Cheal B site, and these wells are intended to intersect Mt. Messenger and Moki targets identified from 3D seismic surveys.

Austral Pacific Chief Executive Officer Rick Webber anticipates production of 1,000 b/d in first quarter 2007, rising to 1,900 b/d in second quarter 2007.

The production permit for Cheal calls for an initial 10-year term with a right to extend the duration of the permit. The total development expenditure is estimated at $16 million, Austral Pacific said.

Upon completion of the Cheal B wells, Austral Pacific plans to drill two Cheal A development wells. At the same time as Cheal B drilling commences, Cheal B well testing will start.

Existing Cheal A3X and A4 wells are scheduled for workover and recompletion, starting in December.

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