Woodside Updates Activity Offshore Mauritania

Woodside Petroleum is re-evaluating its drilling program off the coast of Mauritania after encountering problems at its Courbine-1A exploration well. Woodside first reported discoverying oil off Mauritania last month with its Chinguetti-1 well, raising the possibility of a new oil province off north west Africa.

The Courbine appraisal well was being drilled to assess a separate oil-bearing structure 9 miles away and had been expected to be completed by mid-to-late July. Drilling difficulties were encountered at a depth of 9,514 feet and Woodside is now considering its options. The group has already been forced to abandon an earlier well at the Courbine location and the timing of any new well would depend on drilling rig availability. Woodside is the operator of the Area B Joint Venture offshore Mauritania and holds a 35 percent interest. Other partners in the venture are Eni of Italy with 35 percent, Hardman Resources of Australia with 18.6 percent, Fusion Oil & Gas with 6 percent, Planet Oil (Mauritania) with 3 percent and Elixir Corporation holds the remaining 2.4 percent.

Seismic surveys indicate there are 43 different leads in the joint venture's acreage. Although a number of oil companies had previously drilled unsuccessfully in shallow water off the Mauritanian coast, the deepwater is regarded as frontier exploration territory.