Exploration/Development news briefs, Aug. 15

TGS-NOPEC Geophysical � Noble Drilling � Samedan Oil � Mariner Energy ... Daewoo ... Myanma Oil & Gas Enterprise ... Sasol ... OilExchange ... Beach Petroleum ... Magellan Petroleum Australia ... Santos ... Australian Canadian Royalties ... Australia Crude Oil Co.

TGS-NOPEC Geophysical Co. has begun acquisition of seismic in a new nonexclusive 2D survey program off Sierra Leone. This 2,500-km program is a joint effort of TGS-NOPEC and the Ministry of Mineral Resources of Sierra Leone. The survey will cover the Sierra Leone portion of the Liberia basin in preparation for a bid round scheduled in 2001. The data set will be available by yearend.

Noble Drilling Corp. says it has settled its lawsuit with Noble Affiliates Inc. subsidiary Samedan Oil Corp. regarding the use of Noble Drilling's deepwater semisubmersible, the Noble Homer Ferrington. Noble filed suit in January 2000 against Mariner Energy Inc. and Samedan alleging breach of contract regarding the use of the rig. The dispute was settled with Mariner Energy through a long-term drilling contract (OGJ, Mar. 13, 2000, p. 32). A similar arrangement has been made with Samedan, which has agreed to use the Noble Homer Ferrington at variable day rates for 660 days over a contract period of 1,625 days, including a stacking day rate following the first 30 days of nonusage for each year of the contract. Noble Drilling will receive working interests in seven of Samedan's deepwater exploration prospects and be carried during the drilling of the initial test well on each of those prospects. The contract provides for a lump-sum settlement and includes the provision for Noble Drilling to contract the rig to third parties for extended periods during the 1,625-day contract term. Mariner and Samedan will jointly use the rig during the terms of their respective drilling contracts.

South Korea's Daewoo Corp. has signed a production-sharing contract with Myanma Oil & Gas Enterprise for Block A-1 off Myanmar. This 960,000 acre block is off northwestern Myanmar near the border with Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal. Daewoo has a 100% working interest in this block and will reprocess existing seismic data during the first period of exploration, said Su-Yeong Yang, general manager of petroleum exploration and production for Daewoo.

South Africa's Sasol Ltd. has opened an on-line data room for divesting its interest in Marine Block X off Congo. "Marine X permit is an exploration block in the prolific Lower Congo basin where a recent 3D seismic survey has better-defined some old marginal discoveries and revealed additional deeper potential," said Geoff Jackson, Sasol's manager for West Africa. "Presalt exploration plays can be combined with multiple postsalt prospective levels in an area close to existing infrastructure and with water depths of around 100m." OilExchange Inc., Denver, will host the data room.

Beach Petroleum NL, Adelaide, and its 50% partner Magellan Petroleum Australia Ltd. have been awarded Block CO2000-C in the re-released Cooper basin exploration permits in South Australia. The block is in the northeast sector of the basin, north of Keleary and Teploea oil fields. The permit was part of a package of tenements that had been held by Santos Ltd. since the 1950s and was relinquished in February 1999. Since that time, South Australia has re-released much of the acreage in three licensing rounds�two last year and a third this year�comprising 24 new permits. Beach was granted three other permits in previous rounds. The firm plans a $5 million (Aus.) exploration program in its Cooper basin holdings, taking a fresh look at plays on its new permits that Santos had explored only sparsely. Other winners in the most recent licensing round were Australian Canadian Royalties (three permits) and US-based Australia Crude Oil Co. (one).

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