AWE Keen to Repeat Success of Tui, Gears Up to Spud 4 Offshore NZ Wells

AWE will begin a major offshore oil and gas exploration program in New Zealand's Taranaki basin in the third quarter of 2009 to build on its successful Tui oil field development.

AWE has executed agreements to secure the services of the semisubmersible drilling rig, Kan Tan-IV to drill four exploration wells in the offshore Taranaki basin in New Zealand. The Kan Tan-IV, operated by international drilling company, Maersk, will be contracted by AWE as part of a consortium of Australian companies to drill both in New Zealand and in south east Australia starting in the 2nd quarter of 2009.

AWE will have a total time contracted sufficient to drill four exploration wells in New Zealand. Additional rig time is expected to be available for follow-up exploration or appraisal drilling.

Final selection of the wells to be drilled has not been made and remains subject to joint venture approvals. However, AWE expects to drill the large Hoki oil prospect in permit PEP 38401 as the first well of its New Zealand campaign and also drill at least two oil prospects in close proximity to the producing Tui oil field.

AWE Managing Director Bruce Wood said, "This program is of major importance to AWE as well as to New Zealand. The Tui oil field has already become a major contributor to the NZ economy and has illustrated the value of the petroleum sector to the country."

"We are very excited to be continuing our close association with New Zealand and are naturally keen to repeat the success of Tui," Wood said.

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