Exploration/Development news briefs, May 16

TotalFinaElf SA ... South Atlantic Petroleum ... Braspetro ... Statoil AS ... ENI SPA ... Tanganyika Oil Co. Ltd. ... Syrian Petroleum Co. ... Dragon Oil Turkmenistan Ltd. ... Naftiran Intertrade Co. Ltd.

TotalFinaElf SA reports a "promising" discovery on Oil Prospecting Licence 246 in the deep waters off Nigeria. Drilled in 1,375 m of water, Akpo-1 is the first well on OPL 246. On test, it flowed 9,000 b/d of light oil. Further geological and engineering studies are needed to fully appraise the discovery, says TotalFinaElf. OPL 246, 130 km offshore in the Niger delta, is operated by TotalFinaElf with a 24% stake; partners are South Atlantic Petroleum (60%) and Braspetro, the international arm of Petroleo Brasileiro SA (16%).

Norway's Statoil AS made an oil discovery off Norway called Svale that partner ENI SPA says could contain more than 60 million bbl of oil. Exploratory well 6608/10-6, on License 128 about 10 km north of Norne field in the Norwegian Sea, cut an oil column more than 170 m thick in "good reservoir sands," according to ENI. Evaluation of the field is still in progress, but ENI said production could start by 2003. Operator Statoil holds 40% of the license. Other interests are Norwegian state entity SD�, 25%; Norsk Hydro ASA, 13.5%; ENI unit Norsk Agip AS, 11.5%; and Enterprise Oil PLC, 10%.

Tanganyika Oil Co. Ltd., Calgary, says it has signed a deal with the Syrian government for development of Oude oil field in northeastern Syria. Tanganyika would expand production to 16,000 b/d or more from 2,000 b/d and would earn a 30% share of incremental production after shared costs are recovered. The company said the agreement is the first to allow a foreign firm exclusive rights to develop a field administered by Syrian Petroleum Co., the state oil company. Tanganyika initially will spend $5 million (US) on feasibility studies to determine the best methods of drilling and recovery for the field. The field has 17 wells; oil is shipped to the Mediterranean coast via a 22-in. pipeline.

Dragon Oil Turkmenistan Ltd. said its production-sharing contract for the Cheleken area in Turkmenistan went into effect May 1. Turkmenistan has granted the Dragon Oil PLC unit a 25-year production license for the area, in the Caspian Sea near the Cheleken Peninsula. Dragon Oil said the PSC was granted after a Turkmenneft joint venture, formed in 1993 to develop the area, was dissolved. The company also said it entered a crude oil swap contract with Naftiran Intertrade Co. Ltd. Dragon will ship crude from Turkmenistan to Neka, Iran. In return, it will receive equivalent barrels at Kharg Island in the Gulf. The swap fee is $17/tonne.

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