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Hardman Resources ‘considerably upgrades’ Malta oil prospect

David Lindsay

Australian oil firm Hardman Resources said on Monday that the latest seismic studies and oil seep work carried out by the company have considerably upgraded the prospects of a viable oil find offshore Malta.

Hardman, in a statement released on Monday, added that it is currently holding discussions with a number of companies to form a joint venture group that would begin drilling offshore Malta this year. Hardman has been looking for an oil-drilling partner for its Malta operation for some time now, which has been a sticking point between Hardman and the government. In fact, Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami had explained to Parliament late last year that the government had extended its contract with Hardman a number of times for that very reason.

The company currently holds an 87.6 per cent interest in a Malta Exploration Study Agreement (ESA) permit covering Blocks Four and Five, located 60 kilometres east of Malta and southeast of several oil fields located offshore Sicily.

The largest of these fields, the Vega Oil Field, was discovered in 1981 and is reported to contain 300 million barrels of recoverable oil. Previous seismic work carried out by the government in the 1980s and by Texaco in the early 1990s had identified several prospects within Blocks Four and Five, but these are yet to be tested by drilling.

Meanwhile, fellow Australian firm Pancontinental Oil & Gas also said this week that it has completed its interpretation of 75km of seismic data acquired last year. The interpretation, it explained in a company statement also released on Monday, has shown that the extent and size of the prospects, as indicated by the limited seismic coverage, are large enough to contain potentially viable reserves.

According to the company statement, "Subsequently, in the light of this very encouraging new information, further work is now in progress to analyse the reservoir and structural characteristics of the prospects and plan a seismic program within Area Five to further define the extent and location of the reefal and biohermal trends present in the permit."

While the company had previously held certain reservations over the paternity of the area being scrutinised, it said on Monday it believes that the major prospects revealed to date are entirely within offshore areas claimed only by Malta.

Last year Pancon had signed an Exploration Study Agreement with the Maltese Government to acquire a 40 per cent interest in the two large offshore permits, covering an area of approximately 14,800 square kilometres, which, according to the company, could contain up to one billion barrels of oil.

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt