Austral Pacific to Begin Papua New Guinea Appraisal Program

Austral Pacific Energy is due to begin appraisal work later this year on the Stanley gas field in Papua New Guinea. The move comes after the company won a five-year extension to the term of Petroleum Retention License (PRL) 4, which covers the Stanley field in the western province of Papua New Guinea.

Austral Pacific Energy, through a wholly owned subsidiary, Austral Pacific Energy (PNG) Limited, holds a 28.92 percent interest in PRL 4 and is the new operator of the license.

The other partners in PRL 4 are InterOil Corporation, through its wholly owned subsidiary SPI (157) Ltd, (43.13 percent) and Horizon Oil Limited (27.95 percent).

"This license represents an integral part of the company's strategy to commercialize gas opportunities in the Forelands region of Papua New Guinea," said chief executive officer and president, Thom Jewell.

The license was granted originally in 2000 for a term of five years to appraise the Stanley discovery.

In 2005, the then operator of the PRL 4 Joint Venture, Santos, sought an extension to the term of the license. The extension is for five years and is backdated to August 2005.

The Stanley-1 well was drilled in 1999 to a total depth of 3219m. Thirty-five meters of excellent quality Toro reservoir was intersected at 3125m with 13.5m of gross gas pay interpreted from wireline logs.

Appraisal of the Stanley discovery will begin later this year with a 43km infill 2D seismic program. It will address the structural uncertainty of the Stanley Field and determine the optimum location for an updip Stanley-2 appraisal / development well.

At the same time, negotiations will continue with a potential buyer of Stanley gas. The gas is proposed for use in electricity generation for the OK Tedi mine ("the Stanley Gas Project").

The Stanley Gas Project is an exciting project for Austral Pacific Energy, Jewell said.

"Bringing gas to market in Papua New Guinea is a significant challenge, but with a ready buyer for Stanley gas we have a unique opportunity to begin realizing the potential of our extensive license interests there."