Exploration/Development news briefs, May 25

Indonesia Petroleum Ltd. makes North West Shelf gas discovery; Uzbekistan invites foreign investment in development projects.

Indonesia Petroleum Ltd. (INPEX), a quasi-governmental Japanese oil exploration company, has found natural gas and condensate with the first exploratory well on in its concession block off Western Australia, INPEX officials confirmed. On test, a well on Block WA-285-P flowed 22 MMcfd of natural gas and 1,300 b/d of condensate. The 5,050 sq km block, where water depths are 90-340 m, is on the North West Shelf about 800 km southwest of Darwin, Australia. INPEX plans to drill two more wells on the block and hopes to begin commercial production as early as 2001. INPEX, 50% owned by state-run Japan National Oil Corp., acquired the WA-285-P block in August 1998.

Uzbekistan's energy holding company, Uzbekneftegaz, has invited investors to develop eight oil and gas fields requiring total outlays of $242 million. The fields, operated by Uzbekneftegaz, include North Shurtan, South Kyzylbairak, and Shakarbulak, which together produce 646,000 tonnes/year of oil. South Tandyrcha, Gumbulak, and Dzharkuduk fields produce 2.5 billion cu m/year of gas and 90,000 tonnes/year of condensate. Uzbekneftegaz said $25 million in investments would also be needed at Umid and South Kemachi fields in order to boost output to 100,000 tonnes/year of oil, 30,000 tonnes/year of condensate, and 2.0 billion cu m/year of gas. It did not mention their current production levels. Also needed are a $45 million gas compressor station at Gazli and a $20 million plant to utilize flared gas at Kokdumalak field. Separately, Uzbekneftegaz Chairman Ibrat Zainutdinov said Uzbekistan will sell 49% of the shares of the company to foreign investors. The government will also sell stock in its other petroleum companies�Uzneftegazdobycha, Uzneftepererabotka, and Uzburneftegaz.

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