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Oil and gas news summary: Aminex, Solo Oil, Petroceltic, Magnolia Petroleum, Providence, Heritage Oil, SOCO, Dragon Oil


Shares in Aminex (LON:AEX) and Solo Oil (LON:SOLO) were in demand early this week after an independent report upgraded the resource figures for the partners’ Tanzanian gas projects.

The report assessed the jointly owned Ruvuma PSA, as well as Aminex’s other Tanzanian asset, the Nyuni PSA.

Ruvuma is now estimated to contain 5.7 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas-in-place. Ntorya alone is estimated at 1.17 tcf and 178 billion cubic feet of that is already deemed to be ‘discovered’. 

“When taken together with the vast reserves discovered to date offshore and the favourable operating cost environment of the onshore this represents a very valuable resource,” Solo Oil chief executive Neil Ritson said.

“Existing nearby infrastructure and the planned Mtwara to Dar es Salaam pipeline further enhance the commercial value of this acreage.”

Additionally the report indentified a potentially large lead “up-dip” of Ntorya, which is estimated to be in the order of 2.62tcf. And the report also points to “significant, but so far unquantified” oil potential.

"The results are extremely encouraging, following on from the testing success at Ntorya announced last week,” Aminex chief Stuard Detmer said.

“The evaluation confirms our view that the onshore Ruvuma Basin is highly prospective not only for gas but also with the possibility of finding reservoired oil.”

In other news in the sector, Petroceltic (LON:PCI) has been awarded two offshore exploration licences in Italian waters, in the central Adriatic Sea, and Magnolia Petroleum (LON:MAGP) has decided to participate in three extra wells in the current drill campaign in Oklahoma.

Petroceltic also noted that it has applications in for three further adjacent licences. This new acreage is located in water depths of 30 to 150 metres, near existing oil and gas fields. And there are three working hydrocarbon systems in the area.

The company says that a number of leads and prospects have already been identified within the licences, following the interpretation of existing 2D geophysical data.

The new licence award follows a proposal by the Italian government to ease certain aspects of the current ban on oil drilling near Italy’s coast.

"We are delighted with the award of these offshore exploration permits which is indicative of a desire to re-activate the offshore Italian exploration and production industry by the Government of Italy,” said chief executive Brian O'Cathain.

Peer Magnolia will hold minority stakes in the three wells which add to the group’s portfolio of interests in 80 producing properties.

"We are continuing to build a pipeline of future wells which, once drilled, will add to our portfolio of producing wells in proven US onshore oil plays,” said chief operating officer Rita Whittington.

Whittington said that importantly that Magnolia’s participation level is also beginning to rise, in line with its strategy.

This can be seen in the group’s participation in two of the three wells in this week’s announcement, in the Chesapeake operated Brandt and Ortis wells.

Meanwhile, Providence Resources (LON:PVR) revealed testing at its Barryroe appraisal well offshore Ireland has confirmed the light sweet waxy oil is a better quality than first thought.

An independent crude assay of a 20-litre sample showed the oil is premium light measuring 43 degrees API. It is also a low sulphur, low acidity and low metal crude.

The wax content is around 17 per cent by weight and the oil showed only small amounts of nitrogen.

The results are an improvement on the initial analysis published in March, when the company announced significantly better than expected drilling results at Barryroe, flowing 3,514 barrels of highly mobile light sweet crude a day, or the equivalent of 4,000 barrels if gas is included.

Providence is the operator of the field with 80 percent, while the remaining 20 percent is owned by Lansdowne Oil & Gas (LON:LGOP).

Chief executive Tony O’Reilly said: "The results of this Barryroe oil assay vindicate our proposition that high value crudes exist in the shallow waters off the south coast of Ireland.

"Our well testing results, and subsequent horizontal modelling, has demonstrated that these crudes can be produced at commercially attractive rates.”

Heritage Oil (LON:HOIL) said it will shell out US$850 million for Nigerian assets in a game-changing move into Africa, while fellow FTSE 250 oil and gas group SOCO International (LON:SIA) has agreed to acquire the remaining 20 percent stake in SOCO Vietnam for US$95 million in cash.

With its Nigerian partner Shoreline Power, the oil and gas company will buy a 45 percent interest in the OML 30 fields from Shell (LON:RSDB), Total and Eni in a deal described by chief executive Tony Buckingham as “transformational” for the company.

“Heritage is very excited to be participating in the development of OML 30 and entering at an attractive valuation,” said Buckingham, who owns almost a third of Heritage.

“As part of Heritage's diversified portfolio of exploration, appraisal and development assets, OML 30 is expected to provide significant production and cash flow, thereby de-risking Heritage's financial profile, and our technical expertise will provide a comparative advantage in creating additional value.”

The company, which also has operations in Libya and Iraq, says the deal represents a “significant opportunity for Heritage to achieve a material change in production and reserves".

Meanwhile, according to SOCO, the price paid for its Vietnamese subsidiary to Lizeroux Oil & Gas price is “attractive” compared to other recent transactions in Vietnam.

The group added that the deal reflects its belief in the current value and future potential of the Ca Ngu Vang and Te Giac Trang fields, in which SOCO Vietnam holds stakes of 25 and 28.5 percent respectively.

The second platform at TGT remains on track to start producing in mid July to early August with gross output from the field expected to reach 55,000 barrels of oil per day.

“The acquisition represents a unique opportunity to consolidate our interests in SOCO Vietnam, enabling the group to generate greater long-term value by capitalising on the production growth and upside potential of the TGT and CNV fields,” said president and CEO of SOCO Ed Story.

“The acquisition will be significantly value accretive, generating substantial future return for SOCO shareholders.”

Salamander Energy (LON:SMDR), also a constituent of the FTSE 250 index, has decided to plug and abandon the Far East-1 well in its operated B8/38 licence in the Gulf of Thailand.

The decision was made after the results of a drill stem test over a zone of potential oil pay showed that water was present in the section.

This well will be followed by the Bualuang North West Terrace exploration well, which will be drilled later in the year as part of a wider exploration programme across both the B8/38 and G4/50 licence areas.

On a positive side, the company said that the early indications from new 3D data from the licence have exceeded its initial expectations.

The company is now looking for a rig, expecting to bring it to the area in the final quarter of the year to start an extensive exploration programme with a primary focus on G4/50.

Elsewhere, Dragon Oil (LON:DGO) has successfully completed and tested the Dzheitune (Lam) C/173 development well in the Caspian Sea, offshore Turkmenistan.

The well was completed as a dual producer (short and long string) to a depth of 3,015 metres and tested at a combined initial flow rate of 2,918 barrels of oil per day.

The drilling rig has skidded to the next slot and spudded the Dzheitune (Lam) C/175 well.

The group is currently a single asset company producing from the Cheleken production sharing contract it fully controls.

The operational focus is on the re-development of two oil-producing fields, Dzheitune (Lam) and Dzhygalybeg (Zhdanov).

Russia-focused Urals Energy (LON:UEN) said it has successfully completed final production testing on Well -41 on the Petrosakh field.

The well is now producing approximately 180 barrels of oil per day, which is within the target range. Current production at Petrosakh is now 1,429 bopd.

The group is currently considering recommendations from several respected oil service companies to evaluate future steps regarding Well-51 which was temporarily abandoned due to difficult drilling conditions.

Urals has been informed that the license for the Okruzhnoye field, which expires at the end of 2012, has been renewed until 2037.

Current production at Arcticneft is stable and stands at 710 bopd, it added in a brief operational update.

Finally, explorer Aurelian (LON:AUL) had more disappointment for shareholders this week as its Sosna-1 well in Poland flowed poorly despite good oil shows.

Aurelian said the well, the company's first wildcat exploration well in the Zechstein 'reef' oil play in the Torzym concession, reached its target depth of 2,455m.

The company added 46 metres of core was recovered with good oil shows within the reservoir, but with brine in the wellbore the well did not flow when perforated.

It added that the reservoir pressure was uncertain and lack of flow to surface may have been caused by the reservoir being at a lower pressure than the brine column on the reservoir. 

The company will now undertake additional analysis and consider further testing options, including mobilisation of coiled tubing for nitrogen unloading of the well.

Aurelian has had problems with flow rates before. The shares have shed three quarters of their value since September when it reported flow problems from its highly anticipated Siekierki gas prospect, also in Poland.

John Smallwood, exploration director, said: "The oil encountered in Sosna-1 is an encouraging outcome as we move forward in realising the potential of the Zechstein deposits - Main Dolomite oil play in the Cybinka and Torzym licences.“

“Elsewhere across the portfolio the key play and prospect de-risking activities are progressing well in order to improve the prospect inventory and prepare for the next phase of selective portfolio improvement and drilling," he added.

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July 31 2012

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