AWE Now Operator of Three Western Taranaki Offshore Permits

Australian Worldwide Exploration Ltd (AWE) has become a major player on the west of Maui oil play by increasing its interest and becoming operator in PEP 38432 and PEP 38482.

AWE Ltd, on behalf of its wholly-owned subsidiary AWE New Zealand Pty Ltd, said it has also exercised its option to drill the West Cape-1 well in PEP 38481.

Earlier this year, AWE earned a 10% interest in both PEP 38481 and the neighboring PEP 38482 by funding Shell's 60% share of the West Cape 300 km 2D seismic program. AWE acted as project operator for the seismic survey.

AWE said it has now elected to exercise the option to move to a 40% holding in both permits. At the time of its farm-in, the company said that this option would involve funding Shell's remaining 50% interest in an exploration well in either of the two permits to earn a further 30% equity in both permits.

The other interest-holders in the two permits are OMV New Zealand Ltd 25% and Todd Petroleum Mining Company Ltd 15%.

AWE said that following a recent meeting of the PEP 38481 and PEP 38482 joint ventures, AWE has been elected operator of both the permits.

AWE said it will become the major operator of acreage in the prospective Western Taranaki basin, over an area exceeding 16,600 sq km. The company is also operator and 44% interest holder in the 12,204 sq km PEP 38483.

The next phase of activity within the Western Taranaki basin permits will be the drilling of Hector-1 well in PEP 38483, which is anticipated in the third quarter of 2006.

AWE has listed both the Hector and West Cape prospects as having potential recoverable reserves of over 100 million barrels of oil.