HRT Expects to Start Drilling Second Namibia Well in Two Weeks

RIO DE JANEIRO - Brazilian oil startup HRT Participacoes em Petroleo SA expects to start drilling on its second well offshore Namibia in two weeks, Chief Executive Milton Franke said Wednesday.

"The Murombe prospect is only 15 kilometers from Wingat," Mr. Franke said during a conference call with analysts. The drilling rig will be moved to Murombe shortly, the executive added.

Earlier this week, HRT said that the company's first well drilled off the coast of the West African nation did not contain oil in commercially viable volumes. Despite the disappointing results, the Wingat prospect provided the company with important data that will aid HRT's efforts in Namibia, Mr. Franke said.

"We have today a much better sample of information about Namibia than we had before, maybe we have the best set of information out of all companies in Namibia today," Mr. Franke said.

The well also proves that the region offshore Namibia holds crude oil, Mr. Franke said. Oil samples from the Wingat well showed very light oil rated at about 40 degrees on the American Petroleum Institute's scale, the executive added.

"Wingat confirms the oil potential of the basin," Mr. Franke said. "Most thought Namibia would only be a [natural] gas potential area."

HRT operates 10 exploration blocks off the coast of Namibia and holds minority interest in two others. The company also holds a 55% interest in 21 exploratory blocks in Brazil's Solimoes Basin, and recently purchased a 60% stake of the Polvo heavy oil field offshore Brazil. Polvo produces about 13,000 barrels per day.


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