Austral Pacific to Abandon Heaphy-1 Well

Austral Pacific says the Heaphy-1 exploration well in PEP 38746 (Austral 66.7%) is now being plugged and abandoned. The well was drilled to a depth of 1450m (4760 feet) and encountered good reservoir quality sandstones at the predicted target levels. Given, the absence of any significant hydrocarbon indications, the decision was made to plug and abandon the well. These operations are now in progress, after which the rig will demobilize from site.

Drilling operations in New Zealand will now be discontinued until late March, when work-over operations on Cheal wells will be conducted as part of Cheal oil field development. Subsequently, the Ratanui-1 exploration well will be drilled along trend from the Supplejack gas discovery in PEP 38741, and further Cheal appraisal wells will be drilled. Also under consideration for the first half of 2006 is Kahili-2, to target the Tariki Sands updip from the Kahili-1A well.

Preparation for the Brecon 3D seismic survey is now underway. This survey, covering 80 sq km (20,000 acres) covering the Cardiff and Cheal structures and contiguous areas, will be acquired in April. This will be tied to adjacent 3D seismic surveys, and used to identify further development locations on Cardiff and Cheal, and further exploration targets along this oil and gas prone trend.

The Coral Sea rig has now arrived in Papua New Guinea, and later this week will be moved by motorized barge out of Port Moresby to the staging area on the Strickland River, from where it will be heli-lifted to the Douglas-1 site. The Douglas-1 exploration well is scheduled to commence drilling in mid March. An independent resource review by international consultants Scott-Pickford is now available, which provides an encouraging evaluation of this large structure.