JNOC Exits New Zealand & Australian Projects

Two Japan National Oil Corporation subsidiaries have withdrawn from oil exploration projects off the northwest coast of Australia and off the North Island of New Zealand.

In 1996, Idemitsu Oil Exploration (Barrow) Pty Ltd obtained a 33.3% working interest of an exploration permit WA-264-P offshore Western Australia. Exploration activities, including two exploratory wells drilled in 2001, confirmed oil reserves in the acreage. However, the drilling did not demonstrate sufficient oil volume to guarantee early commercial development of the discovered resource. Thus, the company decided to withdraw from the project and succeeded in selling all of its interest. Idemitsu's other partner in the permit is Santos.

In 1995, INPEX Northland, Ltd. obtained a 29.67% working interest (later increased to 33.33% due to changes in Crown Minerals regulation of New Zealand) of PEP 38602 acreage offshore northwestern part of North Island, New Zealand. An exploratory well drilled in 1999 failed to find any reservoirs. Thus, the company attempted to farm out a part of its interest in late 2001 in order to continue the exploration activities with less financial burden. However, no prospective partners appeared, then. Later, further exploration, including an additional exploration well drilled from late 2002 to early 2003, confirmed small gas deposit. The discovered reserves were, however, evaluated not to be economically viable. Thus, INPEX Northland, Ltd. decided to terminate its exploration venture and return its permit to the New Zealand government. Partners in the permit are ConocoPhillps and Todd Petroleum Mining. However, earlier this year ConocoPhillips relinquished its interest in the permit as well.

Idemitus Oil Exploration (Barrow) Pty Ltd is owned by Idemitus Kosan Co. Ltd with 52.5% interest and Japan National Oil Corp. with 47.8% interest. INPEX Northland, Ltd. is owned by INPEX Corporation with a 32.2% interest and Japan National Oil Corporation with 67.8% interest.