Austral Pacific Appoints New Chief Executive

The Chairman of Austral Pacific Energy Ltd., Mr. David Newman, announced the appointment of Mr. Rick Webber as the company's new President and Chief Executive Officer.

Commenting on the announcement, Mr. Newman said, "Rick's appointment reflects the outcome of an extensive international search conducted by a Houston-based firm of global energy search specialists. We are delighted to have a person of his skills and experience to lead Austral Pacific."

Mr. Webber, a New Zealander, has some thirty years of experience in the international oil and gas industry, having worked in the Middle East, the Far East, the United Kingdom, Australia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand. Educated at the University of Auckland, Mr. Webber holds a B.Sc. and an M.Sc. in physics and has augmented these degrees with studies at Harvard Business School's Program for Management Development. Mr. Webber has held a variety of technical and executive roles in previous positions with Schlumberger, BP and Fletcher Challenge Energy. He will take up the appointment with Austral Pacific from 7 February 2006.

As part of his remuneration package, the Company has granted Mr. Webber 400,000 incentive options, exercisable for 5 years, vesting in three tranches over 3 years, with 50% vesting in year one and 25% each year thereafter. The tranches are exercisable at escalating prices from current market to US$2.00 and US$2.50 per share.

In other corporate developments, Mr. Garth Johnson has resigned from the Board to pursue other business and career opportunities. The Board acknowledges Mr. Johnson's valuable contributions to the Company over the last eight years.

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