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Junior taps into aggression

JUNIOR hydrocarbon explorer Tap Oil NL is beginning to reap the benefits of an aggressive exploration programme in the Carnarvon Basin of the North West Shelf of WA.

The Perth-based oil and gas producer and its joint venture participants have recorded three gas and condensate strikes on four permit interests drilled recently.

Since listing on the bourse in September 1996, Tap has exceeded expectations by concentrating its exploration on the Carnarvon Basin which it believes hosts unrealised potential.

Tap Oil managing director Paul Underwood said this focus made the company somewhat unusual.

“The value in Tap’s premium acreage position in the Carnarvon Basin, along with strategic basin-hub production infrastructure, is outstanding,” he said. “Such an acreage position combined with a quality and intensive (funded) drilling programme is rare.”

The company’s first transaction was to acquire an extensive database, including 80,000 line kilometres of seismic, over its area of focus.

The next step was the acquisition of 12.2 per cent equity in the Harriet Joint Venture, which included the Harriet group of producing oil and gas fields, providing an underpinning cash flow for exploration and development.

During the March quarter the company recorded a solid $5.2 million total income from hydrocarbon sales and tolling.

Another important deal for the Harriet JV was the striking of a gas contract with Australian Gas Light Co. for 16.4 petajoules.

Mr Underwood said the gas would be utilised to supply projects down the new Mid West pipeline including Precious Metals Australia Ltd’s vanadium project.

Gas sales continued at significant levels due to existing customers, spot sales and the new AGL load.

The Harriet JV has been successful in increasing gas sales in the last two years with quarterly average gas sales increasing by 60 per cent from fifty-seven terajoules per day in the March 1998 quarter to 95Tj/d in the current quarter.

“lncreasing gas sales are forecast to continue as customers seek security and diversity of supply,” Mr Underwood said.

He said that, while the Corvus-1 well resulted in a significant gas discovery, it experienced a number of engineering difficulties along with drilling being interrupted by three cyclones.

The Corvus discovery is located about ninety kilometres offshore from the port of Dampier and 50kms north east of the Harriet joint venture’s Campbell gas field, along trend from the Reindeer and Caribou gas-condensate discoveries to the north-east.

The Corvus-l well encountered two large stacked gas columns.

The uppermost gas zone of 399.2 metre thickness was intersected between 3436m and 3835m depth. Two flow tests were carried out over this upper interval, the first as an open hole test of the side track interval of 152m, between 3557m and 3709m depth.

This test recorded a stabilised flow of fifteen million cubic feet per day of gas and twenty barrels of condensate on a 7/16th inch choke over a 12.5 hour period at a wellhead flowing pressure of 3100 pounds per square inch.

Two other Jurassic/Triassic prospects have been mapped within the block.

The Sambar prospect is located immediately to the south-east of Corvus and has a mean potential of around 850 petajoules of gas. The Tusk prospect is located on the upthrown side of the Rosemary fault further to the south and is an oil target.

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