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Max Petroleum's Tools Get Stuck in Hunt for Pre-Salt Hydrocarbons

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Kazakhstan-focused Max Petroleum announced Thursday that drilling tools at its NUR-1 pre-salt well at the Emba B prospect on Block E have become stuck after the firm began drilling into the salt layer.

Max said the well had reached the top of the Kungarian salt at a depth of 5,718 meters, but upon drilling into the salt a high pressure transition was encountered resulting in the drilling tools becoming stuck. Operations are currently underway to retrieve them, after which the company said it will set intermediate casing and drill ahead as planned. 
Max currently expects the well to reach total depth of 7,250 meters in early June 2012. The firm was previously expected to hit target depth this month.
Max was one of two companies investigating pre-salt plays that were highlighted by London-based Westhouse Securities in early March. Results at Emba-B and at Chariot Oil & Gas's Tapir South prospect, offshore Namibia, could help bring a focus on pre-salt opportunities, said the investment bank.
Chariot announced in London on Thursday afternoon that it has begun drilling operations on Tapir South using the Maersk Deliverer (UDW semisub) rig. Tapir South will be only the second well ever to be drilled in the Namibe Basin and has a 25-percent chance of success, according to Chariot.
"The results of this first well will be invaluable to furthering our knowledge and understanding of the Namibe basin. Owing to the additional funding raised last month we can now fully explore the deeper targets within the prospect and we look forward to updating the market with the well results in due course," said Chariot CEO Paul Welch.
Pre-salt refers to a group of rocks located in the marine portions off most of the Brazilian coast and off some of the West African coast, as well as parts of Kazakhstan, that have potential for oil generation and accumulation.
These rocks are termed pre-salt because they stretch under an extensive layer of salt, which in some areas reaches thicknesses of up to 6,500 feet. The rocks, deposited before the layer of salt over time, can hold vast accumulations of hydrocarbons.

A former engineer, Jon is an award-winning editor who has covered the technology, engineering and energy sectors since the mid-1990s. Email Jon at


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