Marathon & SK Corp. Make Gas Discovery Offshore West Africa

Marathon Oil and SK Corp. have made a natural gas discovery offshore Equatorial Guinea, SK Corp. said yesterday.

The Marathon-led consortium found a gas and condensate layer nearly 80 meters deep in an area labeled D-Block, near the Alba Field where Marathon began extracting crude oil and natural gas in 1991. Naphtha and diesel can be taken from condensate, a liquid form of natural gas under pressure.

SK Corp., however, said it does not have an exact estimate of the oil and gas reserves.

SK has a 9.4 percent stake in the exploration area, whereas Marathon holds 84.6 percent and the Equatorial Guinea government the remaining 6 percent.

SK Corp., which controls nearly a third of Korea's oil market, has been participating in exploration of the area where the gas field was discovered since September 1995.

The company is involved in 17 upstream oil or gas blocks in 11 countries including Yemen, Vietnam, Peru and Egypt.

Korea, which imports all of its crude oil and natural gas needs, has been encouraging private companies to buy shares in global gas firms and participate in oil and gas projects abroad to secure stable energy sources.