Apache buys interests around Van Gogh field

Apache Energy and its JV partner Inpex Australia have bought BHP Billiton's interest in two exploration permits just north of their Van Gogh field heavy oil development offshore Western Australia.

Rick Wilkinson
OGJ Correspondent

MELBOURNE, Mar. 16 -- Apache Energy Ltd., Perth, and its joint venture partner Inpex Australia of Japan have bought BHP Billiton's interest in two exploration permits immediately north of their Van Gogh field heavy oil development offshore Western Australia in the hope of finding more reserves to add to the project.

The acquisition includes the licence WA-35-L outside the defined Van Gogh area and a part of WA-255-P, which includes the Novara and Coniston oil discoveries made by BHP in 1982 and 2000 respectively, but not as yet deemed commercial.

Apache and Inpex plan to follow up the two discoveries with appraisal drilling. Depending on the results, they could both be tied back to the Van Gogh production facilities centred on the MT Kudam floating production, storage, and offloading vessel.

The $500 million (Aus.) Van Gogh project is expected to come on stream in May and will reach peak production of 63,000 b/d.

Apache holds 52.5% of the Van Gogh project, while Inpex holds 47.5%.

After this transaction with BHP in WA-35-L (outside Van Gogh), Apache will hold a 52.501% interest while Inpex will hold 47.499%. In the block within WA-255-P, Apache will then hold 26.2505% interest, while Inpex will hold 23.7495%. Woodside Petroleum Ltd. holds the remaining 50%.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed and a timeline for appraisal drilling has not yet been established.

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