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Ophir Energy Clinches Rig for Offshore East Africa Program

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Ophir Energy plc announced it has secured a drilling rig and executed a letter of agreement for Rig Share Assignment with BG Group for the continuation of its 2013-2014 East African offshore drilling program. Odjfell Drilling is the contract counterpart and drilling service contractor.

The Deepsea Metro I or DSM-1 (UDW drillship) is currently being used by the Ophir-BG Group Joint Venture in Tanzania. This contract was previously due to expire in June but has now been extended for a further period of at least 18 months. During this period the DSM-1 will be used to drill a combination of wells in Tanzania for the Ophir-BG Group Joint Venture in Blocks 1-3-4 and also to drill operated wells for Ophir in Tanzania and Kenya and for BG Group in Kenya.

The Ophir-BG Group Joint Venture is currently using the DSM-1 to drill the Ngisi-1 exploration well in Block 4. Ophir management estimates Ngisi-1 could increase the mean in-place resource of the Chewa-Pweza-Ngisi hub to 5.8 Tcf (4.1 Tcf mean recoverable) and would also provide critical scale for gas aggregation and development from Block 4. Gas aggregation from Block 4 will be tied into the Block 1-3-4 LNG development project in Southern Tanzania. 

The Joint Venture is currently reviewing the immediate forward program for Tanzania Blocks 1-3-4. The likely sequence is firstly a satellite exploration well close to the Jodari discovery in Block 1, secondly an appraisal well and DST in Block 4. Thereafter it is planned to spud an outboard exploration well in Block 1 to test basin floor prospectivity by early September. A series of outboard prospects are presently being evaluated for this well.

Once this next phase of the Joint Venture exploration and appraisal program has been completed, Ophir will take over operatorship of the drillship for exploration in Ophir's Tanzanian Block 7, which is expected to target the substantial Mlinzi feature.

Ophir and BG Group have both utilized the DSM-1 drillship for their Tanzania exploration program since December 26, 2011. By extending the DSM-1 contract, the parties save on the considerable cost of mobilizing a drillship from another region, reducing the drilling effective day rate. This arrangement provides maximum flexibility to effectively explore Ophir's operated acreage while continuing with exploration and appraisal in the Ophir-BG Group Joint Venture.

Nick Cooper, CEO, commented:

"We are very pleased to secure the extension of the Deepsea Metro I drillship, which has already been operating safely, efficiently and successfully for the Ophir-BG Group Joint Venture for 17 months. This will provide continuous exploration and appraisal activities in Tanzania through 2013 and 2014 and, in particular, enables us to plan for tests of the outboard prospectivity of Block 1 and Block 7 in September and November 2013 respectively." 

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