At the present time, two of the eight rigs are working in the area north of Axe Lake and are expected to remain there until the end of the drilling season. Six rigs, some of which were deployed beyond Axe Lake, are all now focused on the Axe Lake area. Seismic surveys have been completed in the area south of Axe Lake and are now being undertaken in the area north of the original discovery. Up to six rigs will move to the area south of Axe Lake, as drilling targets are identified through interpretation of the seismic data.
"In the Axe Lake area, our drilling results continue to be consistent with last year's program in that area," said Christopher H. Hopkins, President & Chief Executive Officer of Oilsands Quest. "We are also very encouraged by bitumen intercepts we have encountered north of Axe Lake; these exploration leads will help target drill locations for next winter's program. Meanwhile, we are looking forward to continuing our exploration effort into totally new areas to the south of Axe Lake."
"The successful use of seismic and airborne studies has fully offset the effect of increased drilling time per hole this year," said Mr. Hopkins. "In addition, my exploration team has managed this winter's program very efficiently so that, notwithstanding the increased levels of activity, we remain on target with our original program cost estimate."
Current weather and conditions in Oilsands Quest's operating area continue to be ideal for winter drilling; for example, on March 13 the low temperature was below minus 40 Celsius (minus 40 Fahrenheit). In addition, the Saskatchewan government has granted drilling extensions on a day-to-day basis, depending on the weather, beyond the original March 31 drilling expiry date.
In other activities on its permit lands, Oilsands Quest has completed cutting, leveling and grading an airstrip. Airborne geophysical surveys were completed by the end of February. The peak number of personnel on site at the company's three camps is about 205. A group of investment analysts is touring Oilsands Quest's operations today; a media tour and an institutional investor tour are planned for next week.
Oilsands Quest's management team and its consultants continue conducting detailed core analysis. The company plans to release its preliminary report of drilling results early in April. At that time, the company will again report the number of holes drilled, an indication of drilling success and an overview of its plans for activities during the spring and summer months. A summer drilling/exploration program is currently in the planning stage. The formal estimate of Original Bitumen in Place resulting from this winter's drilling program will not be completed by the company's independent consultants until this fall.
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