Esso Australia farms into Bonaparte Gulf permit

Esso Australia has farmed into Bonaparte Gulf permit WA-318-P off northern Australia. The permit is wholly owned by Drillsearch Energy Ltd. of Sydney.

May 15th, 2007

Rick Wilkinson
OGJ Correspondent

MELBOURNE, May 15 -- Esso Australia has farmed into Bonaparte Gulf permit WA-318-P off northern Australia. The permit is wholly owned by Drillsearch Energy Ltd. of Sydney.

The permit contains the prospective ready-to-drill Marina prospect, a four-way dip closed anticline about 40 km west of Eni SPA's Blacktip gas-condensate field, now under development.

Esso has agreed to pay 85% of the costs of drilling Marina-1 in exchange for a 65% working interest and operatorship of the permit. Drillsearch will pay 15% of the well costs and retain 35% interest in the permit.

The Premium Wilcraft jack up rig has been contracted to drill the well in September.

The permit contains a strong lead called Balzac to the northeast of Marina that is a salt-related feature similar to the nearby Santos Ltd.-held Tern and Petrel gas fields to the east.

A 3D survey of 100 sq km will be run over the prospect to firm up a drilling prospect.

The ExxonMobil farm-in marks the company's first return to northern Australian waters after pulling out of the Timor Sea in the late 1980s.

Drillsearch has two other permits in the Bonaparte: 100% of the Turtle and Barnett oil discoveries in retention leases WA13R and NT/RL3, respectively. These lie 40 km offshore on opposite sides of the Western Australian and Northern Territory border.

Drillsearch is treating the two discoveries as one project and expects to drill two appraisal wells with Wilcraft next year.

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