Giant NSW gas find for ACM

Spectacular natural gas resource estimates – said to eclipse all the reserves in WA – have spurred exploration by Australian Coalbed Methane Pty Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Carbon Minerals NL.

Last year, a United States-based oil and gas explorer/producer, Forcenergy Inc, made a spectacular gas strike in the Narrabri gas fields in the Gunnedah Basin, near Dubbo in New South Wales.

After a $15 million exploration programme comprising fifteen wells, 484 line-kilometres of seismic work, two cavity completions and seven hydraulic fractures stimulations, an independent assessment of natural gas resources was calculated at over 35 trillion cubic feet in the PEL 238 Permian coal measures, with additional significant gas reserves identified within Permian and Triassic sandstone reservoirs in the Narrabri gas field.

The size of this resource can be gauged by comparison with others. For example, 35 TFC of gas is equivalent to about 38,000 petajoules of energy.

This figure is placed in context when compared with current gas consumption in NSW of about 100 PJ per annum, or the 1992 estimate of proved and probable gas reserves for the entire WA area (including offshore) of some 55,000 PJ.

ACM and joint venture partner Pacific Power hold four tenements adjacent to the Narrabri fields.

Consultant to Carbon Mal Bunny, principal of Earth Resources Australia Pty Ltd, called the estimates “good news” for ACM.

“We are confident of the potential of our project,” he said.

Carbon secretary Stephen Danielson said the JV’s tenements share identical geological environments and “clearly have great significance for ACM.”

“In light of these developments, and given coalbed methane’s recognition as a relatively environmentally friendly energy resource, it is clearly essential that ACM and Pacific Power escalate their exploration effort within the Gunnedah Basin tenements,” he said.

The JV has proposed a detailed program of seismic surveys, reconnaissance corehole drilling and trial production assessment at an estimated cost of $17 million over a two-year period.

Mr Danielson said such an amount is clearly beyond Carbon’s existing financial resources, and the company, in conjunction with Pacific Power, is examining means to fund the program whilst maximising equity.

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