Empire Gears Up for Tasmanian Field Ops

Empire Energy Corporation International, a Kansas-based firm that plans to explore for oil and gas in the Australian state of Tasmania, said that its A$6.4 million (US$4.7 million) oil and gas seismic survey is underway.

The company recently made A$2 million (US$1.5 milllion) in pre-payments to Terrex Seismic, a Western Australia-based seismic company. Empire reports that on-ground exploration activity will begin this month on a 1,400-kilometer (870-mile) program planned by its wholly owned subsidiary, Great South Land Minerals (GSLM).

"Field operations will commence after Easter and will be in full swing by the last week in April," said Clive Burrett, GSLM's CEO. "GSLM commissioned the seismic program in September 2005, however activity was delayed due to the heavy demand for seismic services coupled with the shortage of skilled oil-field workers as a consequence of sustained high oil prices in excess of $US60 a barrel."

"Terrex Seismic is using large seismic vibrators, which are capable of imaging subsurfacemstructures to a depth of 20 kilometers where oil or gas could accumulate," noted Stephen Tobin, Terrex Seismic's managing director. "The economic basement for hydrocarbon production in Tasmania is expected to be at a maximum depth of approximately six kilometres."

This second-phase seismic program follows a 660-kilometer program conducted in 2001 and is focused on locating exploration prospects and leads that GSLM intends to drill. The geologic and existing well data will then be used to rank the prospects in terms of drilling costs and probability of a discovery, enabling the development of a prioritized drilling program.

"Under Empire's leadership, GSLM's exploration program is being accelerated, enhancing the prospect of developing a commercial oil and gas industry for the state," said Burrett. "A four-year federally-funded study by the University of Tasmania found that more than three billion barrels of oil equivalent could be potentially recoverable from onshore Tasmania. Our seismic program and planned drilling activity represent the next step in developing a potentially valuable oil and gas resource for Tasmania."