International Focus Briefs. . .

Artist's conception of the Petronas Towers. Privatization has been an international industry buzzword for about five years now, but what has been the outcome of this Western-espoused reversal of fortunes transforming a state oil company here and a state gas company there? Not much, at least when looking at those state oil companies around the world that are active in offshore exploration, development, and production.

Africa:

The jackup rigOffshore Bahram has sunk in Egypt's Gulf of Suez waters. In tow from Ras Gharib, the 250 ft Sonat rig went down in 50 ft of water. All personnel were rescued without injury. It was not on contract at the time. Sonat is investigating the incident.

Egypt has awarded Apache and Global Natural Resources its Darag Block in the far northern Gulf of Suez for exploration. Apache is to be operator, with 50% interest. The partners, who hold the Qarun concession east of Darag, are committed to three wells and seismic over three years.

Cte d'Ivoire's Block CI-11 continues to reveal an ever-expanded Lion Field. United Meridian has just drilled its eighth consecutive successful well there, confirming the extent of the discovered gas sands of Lion B-1. The well tested 5,970 b/d oil and 4.6 MMcf/d gas.

Tunisia's Ashtart Field has entered its third phase of development with the installation of a new production platform. Located at 66 meters water depth in the Gulf of Gabes, 76 km southwest of Sfax, the field is equally owned by ETAP, the Tunisian state oil company, and Elf Tunisia. Eight wells will be drilled from the platform by the end of 1997, permitting a production level of more than a million tons a year by 2000.

Asia:

China is going ahead with Pinghu Field development. Shanghai Petroleum and the Bureau of Marine Geology have announced that the first phase of development of the East China Sea field, with 2 tcf gas and 64 million bbl oil, will include 13 production wells and pipelines to provide gas output to Shanghai. Oil will be exported.

The first step in developing Australia's massive Wapet Gorgon complex has been made. Early environmental assessment of a Gorgon LNG project in Western Australia has been earmarked by the federal government. It could add another 9 million tons of LNG to Australia's exports, earning about a billion dollars a year.

Australia's Timor Sea Corallina-1 exploratory well drilled by Woodside Petroleum has tested at 7,700 b/d oil. With the company's 250 million bbl Laminaria Field just 10 km away, it confirms the high prospectivity of this major new oil province.

Papua New Guinea'sPandora [33372 bytes] gasfield in Block PPL82 of the Gulf of Papua, will soon be supplying energy to Australia via subsea pipeline to Queensland's Cape York Peninsula. The 1.57 tcf field is operated by IPC and six partners, who have recently approved its feasibility study.

Some 7,500 sq km of New Zealand's Northland Block has had 2D seismic and gravity/magnetics acquired over it for Conoco. The 113,000 sq km block (PEP38602) is 80% in water depths of more than 200 meters.

Unocal will be installing four more production platforms and drilling 92 additional wells on its Gulf of Thailand holdings this year. A second pipeline to Rayong will go into operation this year, increasing gas deliveries to more than 900 MMcf/d.

Mideast:

A 7,000 km regional seismic survey of Turkmenistan's [40619 bytes] Caspian Sea aquatory is scheduled to begin right away. The data acquisition is being done by PetroAlliance, a new JV of Western Geophysical and MD Seis.

Despite US protests, Total will drill three wells next month on Iran's Sirri A and E Fields in the Persian Gulf. The development wells are the first stage of a US$600 million project signed with the National Iranian Oil Company last year in spite of US pressure to prevent the contract.

Europe:

Georgia and Chevron have been meeting to iron out kinks in the possible Caspian Sea oil export pipeline across Georgian territory to the Black Sea. Financing appears to be the sticking point, and the USA is being asked to finance it.

Americas:

Popeye is now onstream in the US Gulf of Mexico. The Shell Offshore deepwater field, located in 2,000 ft of water on Green Canyon Block 116, started natural gas production in January. Two of Popeye's subsea wells are producing more than 90 MMcf/d gas, with an increase to 120 million soon. Production goes to Shell's Couger platform.

Argentina has withdrawn seven blocks from its current offshore round. Bidding is ongoing at this time, but the blocks, located in the exclusion zone established after the Falklands/Malvinas war with Britain, in an area delineating Argentine waters, were withdrawn due to pressure for more time by potential bidders.

Canada's Northern Oil [31682 bytes] and Gas Directorate has called for bids on Beaufort Sea, Banks Island area, and the Sverdrup Basin of the Arctic Islands, where the Hecla Field (3 tcf gas) is located. Nominations must be received by April 12, bids by the end of August.

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