Exploration/Development news briefs, May 24

TotalFinaElf SA � Agip SPA � ExxonMobil Corp. � Chevron Niugini Ltd. ... Santos Ltd. ... Bligh Oil & Minerals NL ... Garnet PNG Corp. ... Niugini Energy Inc. ... Shell Australia Ltd. ... Chevron Asiatic Ltd.

France's TotalFinaElf SA reports a new deep offshore discovery on Mer Tr�Profonde Sud permit, 200 km southwest of Pointe Noire, Congo. Androm� Marine-1 was drilled in 1,893 m of water, a water depth record for Congo, says TotalFinaElf. The well cut nearly 250 m of net pay in several oil-bearing zones. On test, Androm� Marine-1 flowed 7,000 b/d of "high-grade" oil, according to operator TotalFinaElf. Further work will be needed to fully appraise the find's commercial potential. The permit was awarded in 1997 and covers more than 5,000 sq km in 1,500-3,000 m of water. TotalFinaElf holds 40% of the permit; its partners are Agip SPA (30%) and ExxonMobil Corp. (30%). TotalFinaElf is Congo's leading oil and gas producer with 1999 output of 160,000 boe/d, mainly from Nkossa and Tchibouela fields.

Chevron Niugini Ltd. has acquired a farmout in Petroleum Prospecting License 206 in Papua New Guinea. Chevron has taken a 40% interest in return for funding an unspecified proportion of the ongoing exploration program. The permit is operated by Australia's Santos Ltd. and is located in the foreland region to the south of the Kutubu oil fields. It contains an undrilled prospect called Bosavi that was identified via seismic in 1998. Further seismic is planned beginning next month. Depending on results of this program, a well is planned early in 2001. Santos has a 48% stake in PPL 206 that will be reduced to 30.5%, subject to Chevron�s farm-in contributions to seismic and drilling costs. Bligh Oil & Minerals NL�s 48% interest will fall to 25.5%. And Garnet PNG Corp. and Niugini Energy Inc. will retain their current 2% interests in the permit.

OMV Australia Pty. Ltd., the Austrian company that bought Cultus Petroleum NL after a long takeover battle last year, has reached agreement with Australia to meet Cultus�s outstanding work obligations in Cornea field in the Browse basin by committing exploration funds to future activities in the Timor Sea. The move follows a similar offer from Shell Australia Ltd. last year after the group walked away from the ill-fated Cornea discovery without fulfilling a work program commitment of 43 exploration wells in 3 years (OGJ, Nov. 1, 1999, p. 46). The third JV partner, Chevron Asiatic Ltd., has yet to make an announcement on its part of the work obligations.

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