Russia's Sibneft and Yukos have agreed to join organizations to search for oil and gas off the coast of Siberia's Chukotka autonomous district.

Russian exploration

Russia's Sibneft and Yukos have agreed to join organizations to search for oil and gas off the coast of Siberia's Chukotka autonomous district. The first step is analyzing existing seismic data from the area before conducting further seismic surveys. Chukotka is on Russia's Pacific coast.

Conoco to produce South Natuna Sea

Conoco has awarded two engineering, procurement, construction, and installation (EPCI) contracts for the $1.6 billion Belanak natural gas development offshore Indonesia. The company awarded the contracts under its South Natuna Sea Block B production sharing contract (PSC) with Indonesian state oil and gas company Pertamina.

PT Brown & Root Indonesia will build the floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) unit, that will process up to 350 MMcf/d of natural gas for export, up to 100,000 bbl of oil and condensate per day, and up to 23,000 bbl of LPG per day. The FPSO will be installed and ready for production in late 2004. PT J. Ray McDermott Indonesia will build two wellhead platforms and associated pipelines and the oil offloading buoy.

The Belanak facilities will be a gathering hub for 1.4 tcf of gas and 150 million bbl of oil, condensate, and LPG from at least six nearby fields. Conoco Inc. holds 40% interest in the South Natuna Sea Block B PSC through its subsidiary Conoco Indonesia Inc. Ltd. Partners include Inpex Natuna, Ltd. (35%) and Texaco South Natuna Sea, Inc. (25%).

Unocal finds oil off Indonesia

Unocal Rapak Ltd. found significant oil pay with two deepwater exploration wells on the Ranggas prospect offshore East Kalimantan, Indonesia, in the Rapac production sharing contract area, and is making preparations to drill nearby prospects. The two wells were drilled following an initial discovery in January. Based on drilling to date Unocal estimates the gross unrisked resource potential at 190-650 million BOE.

The next phase of drilling, which comprises four to eight wells, will begin late this year or early next year. The second drilling phase should produce enough information for Unocal to determine commerciality and the necessary size of the production facilities. Unocal Rapak operates the PSC area with 80% working interest. Lasmo Rapak Ltd., a subsidiary of ENI, holds the remaining 20%.

India's third round

India's New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) III is expected to be opened by the country's Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas before March 2002. At present, the ministry is processing and acquiring data to be used to identify oil and gas blocks. The NELP program is directed at opening India to domestic and foreign investors and to reduce the country's crude imports, which now make up 70% of India's crude requirements.

Acreage offshore Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka hoped to announce its first exploration and production bidding round, tentatively scheduled for 2002, but political instability has delayed the announcement indefinitely. The difficulty is the country's inability to commit a policy to paper as a result of the unstable political situation.

Sri Lanka is presently at the mercy of volatile global oil prices. If the country could reach a level of political stability that would allow it to create a firm policy, it could protect itself by reducing its need for imported crude. Currently, Sri Lanka imports 100% of its crude oil. After suspending parliament to avoid an opposition-led no-confidence vote, President Chandrika Kumaratunga has been trying to gain the support of opposition parties, but has not made much headway.

The potential exploration areas are in the Cauvery and Gulf of Mannar Basins off the island's northwest coast. The Gulf of Mannar is very close to the ongoing civil war in the northern part of the island.

South China Sea discoveries

Chinese National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) Ltd. announced a gas discovery in the Liuhua 19-3 area of the South China Sea offshore China. The Liuhua 19-3-1 well was spudded in June and drilled to a depth of 1,500 meters. Tests yielded a daily gas production of 49,000 cubic meters, the company said. Liuhua 19-3 is in the eastern part of the South China Sea about 70 km from the producing Liuhua 11-1 oilfield.

CNOOC announced an oil and gas discovery in the South China Sea, the second discovery in the same area this year. The discovery is in Wenchang 15-1, in the western part of Pearl River Mouth Basin, in the western South China Sea. CNOOC believes the discovery suggests high exploration potential in the area. Together with earlier discovery, the Weizhou 12-1N, this will help offset a falloff in production in the area.

Aussies invest off New Zealand

Hardman Resources NL and Bounty Oil and Gas NL were recently awarded PEP 38215, covering 11,665 sq km in the Great South Basin off New Zealand. The work program for the first year will include pre-stack time migration of existing seismic data. New data will be acquired the following year, with exploration schedule for year three. Hardman Resources operates the Great South Basin joint venture (43.75%), with partners Bounty (43.75%), Albatross Energy Pty Ltd. (10%), and McKenzie Petroleum Ltd. (2.5%).

Timor Sea linkup

Santos Ltd. said Timor Sea natural gas should be brought onstream under a cooperative development linking four major fields. According to a Santos spokesman, the company is in discussions with other operators in the Timor Sea regarding a joint approach to supplying liquefied natural gas and the Australian domestic gas market.

Santos operates the Petrel/Tern field, holds 11.8% of Bayu-Undan, which is operated by Phillips Petroleum Co., and holds 40% in Evans Shoal, operated by Royal Dutch/Shell. The fourth field targeted for development in the area is the Greater Sunrise field, operated by Woodside Petroleum Ltd. and scheduled to come onstream in 2006. These fields contain a combined 20 tcf of gas.

New Zealand seismic

Multiwave Geophysical Company's seismic vesselPolar Duke completed a 6,800 km seismic survey in August over a deepwater area of the Taranaki Basin in the Tasman Sea. TGS-Nopec is processing the data collected over almost 60,000 sq km. Early next year, Crown Minerals plans to offer the deepwater acreage for bidding.

Following the Tasman Sea survey, thePolar Duke began a short survey of the Maari Field in PEP 38413. A 2D survey in PEP 38737 will cover 100 sq km in shallow waters south of the Rimu-Kauri oil and gas fields. Shell NZ and partner Todd Energy hope to drill a well in the Kaheru prospect when the seismic data has been interpreted.

In September, Shell (Petroleum Mining) Co. Ltd. began seismic acquisition in a largely unexplored region off the west coast of New Zealand's South Island in petroleum exploration permit (PEP) 38511. Shell representatives categorize the geology of this survey area as similar in type, but not in size, to the Taranaki and the Australian Gippsland oil and gas producing basins.

This is the first survey Shell has conducted offshore New Zealand that covers an area outside the Taranaki Basin. An agreement between Shell and Thomasson International Ventures Inc (permit operator) gives Shell the opportunity to earn an option of a 100% working interest in the permit.

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