Victoria sets on hot spots

LOCAL explorer Victoria Petroleum is anticipating a new oil boom this year – in the region of its latest acquisition, namely the South Australian Cooper Basin, overlaid by the Eromanga Basin.

The south-west Queensland portion of this basin was the scene of an early-80s oil boom, heralded by the Jackson oil field discovery, and responsible for Victoria’s 1982 listing.

“We’ve been there 19 years, we’re a child of the early 80s,” Victoria Petroleum managing director John Kopcheff said.

Victoria’s new permit, PEL 104, was part of territory locked up for 25 years under a Santos agreement with the South Australian Government. Origin Energy was the original successful bidder, when this permit, among others, was relinquished, but while waiting for a Native Title agreement, re-focused its attention on substantial Otway Basin finds.

March Native Title agreements, covering both exploration and production, on the relinquished territory have raised optimism for the area, Mr Kopcheff said.

Mr Kopcheff is predicting Beach Petroleum will make the first major discovery, any time from next month, when it spuds the Moana-1 wildcat well, ahead of at least six other exploration or appraisal wells planned for the next six months.

In all, 10 wells are planned for the South Australian part of the basin within the next nine months.

“It only needs one good discovery, and this will be the new hot area,” Mr Kopcheff said.

“The big potential is oil, and it will focus industry interest here again.”

Market interest could be longer in coming, Mr Kopcheff said, with investors traditionally selling from May, and clearing the books until July-August, after tax bills have been paid.

Victoria will farm out 40 per cent of its 80 per cent holding in PEL 104, before drilling two late-year wells. While it is confident of oil shows in each of its three Queensland Surat Basin wells over the next three months, the company remains keen on its eight Carnarvon Basin interests and its northern Perth Basin holdings.

The $2.5 million Cooper well planned for EP 325 in November was of particular interest, with significant local and overseas farm-in interest.

But the onshore Jingemia discovery – Victoria’s 99th well–- had already elevated Victoria out of the scrum of junior explorers, Mr Kopcheff maintained.

Like many others, Victoria would like to increase its position in the Perth Basin, but as the area had become “pricey”, this was difficult.

Trading at historic lows, and having been dubbed a “survivor”, Victoria also holds interests in the US and New Caledonia.

But it is the promising “company makers” from larger interests in the company’s portfolio top-3 - the Cooper, Surat and Carnarvon Basins – to which Victoria is particularly looking forward.

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