30 July 2003

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Drillable offshore oil prospects to be ready by early 2004

By David Lindsay

Australian petroleum exploration company Pancontinental Oil and Gas expects to have seismic research work gauging Malta’s offshore oil potential completed within a time frame that would allow drillable prospects to be ready by early 2004.
Pancontinental is currently studying Malta’s offshore oil prospects under an Exploration Study Agreement signed with the Maltese government in mid-2001.
The announcement was revealed in the finer print of a recently-signed participation agreement between Pancontinental and fellow Australian oil and gas company Sun Resources.
Under the preliminary agreement, Sun Resources will fund the existing venture through the anticipated cost of the next seismic commitment in the Maltese offshore project - in return for 20 per cent equity. On completion of the agreement, Pancontinental would retain 32 per cent equity in the project.
The preliminary agreement is subject to being able to secure a satisfactory production sharing contract over the presently targeted leads in Area 5 and the completion of formal documentation.
Permits awarded to Pancontinental by the government total approximately 14,800 square kilometres just south west of Malta.
Pancontinental had reported that the offshore area entrusted to the company by the government contains ‘look alike’ prospects of commercial billion-barrel discoveries in the nearby offshore areas of Tunisia and Libya. The offshore areas in question are Area 5 and Block 3 of Area 4.
Pancontinental had capitalised upon an opportunity that came about in late 2000, which presented itself when experts were reviewing technical data on Maltese territorial waters not under a petroleum permit.
An interpretation of the data, the company says, indicates that the potential size of the prospect is ‘very robust and adequate to contain commercial hydrocarbon volumes.’
The original ESA signed with the government gives Pancontinental an exclusive period of at least 18 months, extendable for three years, with a right to convert to a long-term Production Sharing Contract with the Maltese government.
The announcement comes not long after the news that Hardman Resources, also of Australia, is to begin its own oil exploration activities next year.
Pancontinental has high hopes for the targeted areas, citing that the nearby waters of Tunisia and Libya, with strikingly similar seismic characteristics to the area in question, contain major world-class commercial producing oil and gas fields.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
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