Pioneer will join AGIP Tunisia BV, the operator of the permit, and Paladin Expro Limited in exploring the 1.2 million acre permit. The BEK permit is adjacent to the Anaguid permit operated by a subsidiary of Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, where Pioneer holds a 30% participating interest. Pioneer also holds 50% and is operator of the Bazma, Jorf and El Hamra permits to the north. All referenced participating interests are subject to government participation. Following government approval of this acquisition, Pioneer will be the third largest permit holder onshore Tunisia with permits covering approximately five million acres.
Scott D. Sheffield, Chairman and CEO, stated, "We believe this block is a great complement to our existing acreage position in Tunisia. The Silurian Acacus sandstone play active in Libya and the prolific TAGI sandstone play in Algeria that extend into southern Tunisia offer exciting exploration targets on our extensive acreage position."
Pioneer expects to participate in the next exploratory well in the BEK permit, anticipated in July 2002, targeting the Silurian Acacus sand play. The BEK permit borders the AGIP-operated Oued Zar concession where ten wells produce oil and gas from the Silurian Acacus sandstone as near as one kilometer from the BEK boundary.
The Silurian Acacus play is an emerging play in the Ghadames basin and offers many of the same advantages of the TAGI play already targeted by Pioneer, including proximity to existing production and infrastructure, prolific reservoirs and low development costs.
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