Exploration/Development news briefs, Sept. 15

US Export-Import Bank � Sonatrach � Anadarko Petroleum � Lasmo � Maersk � Woodside � Royal Dutch/Shell � Norwest Energy ... Kerr-McGee China Petroleum ... China National Offshore Oil Corp.


The US Export-Import Bank has approved a $120 million loan for Sonatrach, the national oil company of Algeria. Sonatrach will use the 9-year loan to finance goods and services intended for the development of Algeria's Hassi Berkine South oil field, where Sonatrach is in partnership with three oil firms: Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Lasmo PLC, and a unit of Maersk Olie & Gas AS. The statement said that the bank had not required the Algerian government to guarantee the loan, which is usually the case in credits such as these.

Woodside Energy Ltd. and Royal Dutch/Shell Group have begun seabed soil sampling for the proposed $2.5 billion (Aus.) Sunrise-Troubadour-Sunset (and later Evans Shoal) gas fields development project in the northeastern Timor Sea. Woodside says the work, designed to study platform foundations, shows that the group is serious about the development. The project is expected to come on stream in 2005. The Northern Australian Gas Venture (Woodside-Shell) has spent more than $100 million (Aus.) since 1997 on 3,500 km of 2D seismic data and seven wells. It is now collecting $30 million (Aus.) of 3D seismic.

Perth explorer Norwest Energy NL has revised calculations for potential recoverable oil reserves within the Timor Sea Puffin field in the reservoir encountered by the 1970s discovery well Puffin-1 and this year�s Puffin-5 appraisal. Norwest says there is a 90% probability of 19 million bbl of reserves, a 50% probability of 42 million bbl, and a 10% probability of 93 million bbl. The company adds that there are still a number of parameters with unknown variables included in the calculations, but the new values reflect data obtained from the Puffin-5 well. These reserves do not include a further 6 million bbl calculated for a separate accumulation found in the earlier Puffin-2 well. Further drilling is planned.

Kerr-McGee China Petroleum Ltd. has been awarded Block 09/18, in China's Bohai Bay by the China National Offshore Oil Corp. This block includes more than 550,000 acres and is south of Kerr-McGee-operated Blocks 04/36 and 05/36. Block 09/18 is in about 65 ft of water and is operated by Kerr-McGee with 100% foreign contractor's interest. "...This acreage...is on trend and has similar play concepts as our recent discoveries on Blocks 04/36 and 05/36," said Luke R. Corbett, Kerr-McGee chairman and CEO.

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