JNOC Quits Two Projects

Japan National Oil Corp. has withdrawn from an unsuccessful exploration project in Brazil's Campos basin. It has also pulled out of an onshore project in Algeria. In Brazil, Japex Brasil SA, half-controlled by JNOC, had a 20% stake in block BC-9 120 kilometers northeast of the city of Campos. Other partners in the concession area were Petroleo Brasileiro S/A (PBR), Unocal Corp. (UCL) of the U.S. and Spain's Repsol YPF S.A. (REP). JNOC said exploration work on the area, including drilling two exploratory wells this year, failed to confirm oil and gas reserves viable for commercial operation. Japan Petroleum Exploration Co., a JNOC unit, and Marubeni Corp. (J.MRB or 8002) held the remaining shares in Japex Brasil. JNOC's investment in the project stood at Y771 million at the end of September.

In Algeria, JNOC and its affiliate Inpex Corp. jointly held a 25% stake in an onshore Touggourt block, about 550 kilometers southeast of Algiers. Exxon Mobil Corp. is operator in the area. Although the partners discovered oil during an exploration period between 1995 and 1998, appraisal work showed that oil reserves were far below their initial estimate and commercial production would be difficult, JNOC said. At the end of September, JNOC's investment in the Algerian project totaled Y2.5 billion.