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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Oil, gas international News update

BP: �No fresh Macondo leaks�There is currently �no release of oil� from BP�s ill-fated and abandoned Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico, the UK supermajor insists. Neither have leaks been discovered at the relief well near the site of the well in the Gulf of Mexico which suffered a disastrous blowout in April last year, the company said. BP was pressed into inspecting the well on Thursday after numerous recent reports of oil sheens spotted on the sea surface in close proximity to the well where the Deepwater Horizon exploded last year. In particular the Mobile Press-Register on Wednesday released photographs and video footage of what it claimed were spots of oil, found to be sweet Louisiana crude, near the site, Oil samples taken Tuesday by reporters at the site of BP�s doomed Macondo well are a close match with the chemical composition of crude collected from last summer�s Deepwater Horizon spill, the scientist who conducted the tests;

Maersk Oil has taken a strategic shareholding that could give it an entry ticket into Kurdistan. The Danish oil company, a subsidiary of the AP Moller-Maersk maritime group, acquired the 20% stake in HKN Energy, the sole asset of which is a licence in the Iraqi autonomous region. Maersk said the acquisition �is a step into the prolific but underdeveloped area of Kurdistan in oil output terms� as the company explores opportunities in the region.

Disasters at a coal mine in West Virginia and aboard an oil rig operated by BP in the Gulf of Mexico again made mining one of the most dangerous American jobs in 2010, a report Friday said. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that in private mining, a category that includes oil and gas extraction, fatal work injuries rose 74 percent to 172 in 2010 from 99 a year earlier, Reuters reported. Fatality rates for mining rose to 19.9 in 2010 from 12.4 in 2009 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. The Deepwater Horizon oil rig off the Gulf coast, licensed to BP, exploded and killed 11 workers last April and caused the largest offshore spill in US history. Also last April, an explosion at the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia owned by Massey Energy Co killed 29 miners.

Energy companies on Friday activated emergency plans as the densely populated US East Coast braced for blackouts from Hurricane Irene that could affect millions, reports said. Although the East Coast does not have major offshore oil and gas production like the hurricane-prone Gulf Coast, its huge power and pipeline networks, nuclear plants and refineries mean the energy stakes are high as Irene bears in on North Carolina, Reuters reported. Oil refineries in the US North-east scaled back operations and pipeline operators warned of potential delays for fuel distribution.

Transocean launches takeover bidOffshore drilling contractor Transocean has launched its takeover of Norway�s Aker Drilling after receiving clearance from the Oslo Stock Exchange. Transocean announced an offer earlier this month to buy all the outstanding shares in Aker Drilling for Nkr7.9 billion ($1.5 billion), or Nkr26.50 per share, and also take on outstanding debt of $800 million. Following clearance from the Norwgian bourse, Transocean said the offer had been made on the same terms as previously announced except that it had now been made on an unconditional basis and with settlement guaranteed by a financial institution

RIO DE JANEIRO � Police say four gunmen intercepted a van and a microbus carrying seven U.S. citizens, one Canadian and 10 Brazilians working for a company that provides services to Brazil�s state-run oil company Petrobras. A police spokeswoman said the two vehicles were stopped Thursday morning in Rio as they were heading to the airport. She spoke on condition of anonymity because she is not authorized to discuss the matter with the news media.

Aker Solutions has landed an award for two drilling equipment packages for a pair of so-called Category D semi-submersible rigs being built for Songa Offshore at a South Korean yard, confirming an earlier Upstream report. The Norwegian engineering contractor could also be in line for further spoils if Songa decides to exercise options for two more units. The value of the drilling package deal was not disclosed. Songa currently has two of the well intervention rigs under construction at Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering at a cost of $565 million apiece.

Seadrill The biggest market rout in two years is squeezing credit for oil rig owners, Seadrill's chief executive said in a report shortly before the company's second-quarter earnings release. �It�s exactly the same as what happened during the financial crisis after Lehman Brothers� bankruptcy," chief executive Alf Thorkildsen told Bloomberg. �The financial uncertainty has resulted in fewer new build orders. The eye of the needle has narrowed� for acquisitions, he said. A four-week slump in global equities wiped out more than $8 trillion in stock values amid renewed signs of weakness in the world economy, Europe�s inability to stem its sovereign debt crisis and a downgrade of US debt. Crude oil prices dropped about 14% in the period, while banks have curbed lending, adding to concern that producers may cut exploration budgets

Two dead in Indonesia oilfield riots Two people have been killed and more injured as riots forced the shut-in of an oilfield in Indonesia run by Pertamina and a partner. One oilfield worker was reportedly injured and others along with security personnel were kidnapped as molotov cocktails were thrown in the attacks on Tiaka island in Central Sulawesi which began on Saturday. Around 30 protesters initially set upon the oilfield on Saturday night in wooden boats, forcing ground crew to be evacuated and the facility closed, national regulator BPMigas wrote in an initial statement on the issue.

More than $5 billion has been doled out by a BP-established fund to compensate victims of last year�s deadly Deepwater Horizon oil spill, according to data released this week. The money has gone to 204,715 claimants and represents more than a quarter of the $20 billion BP placed in escrow for those affected by the spill. Independent administrator Ken Feinberg had been met with blistering criticism up and down the Gulf Coast as residents accused him of failing to pay out the claims in a timely way. The bulk of the payouts went to Louisiana, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. A total of 260,843 individuals received $1.97 billion

Singapore-listed Interra Resources has commenced drilling the YNG-3240 infill development well in the Yenangyaung oilfield in Burma. The well will be drilled to a total depth of 1500 feet with the aim to produce oil from the L900FT through 1400FT reservoirs which Interra said were not being drained efficiently by surrounding wells. It added there were currently five wells in the same fault block producing from one or more of the targeted horizons. Interra holds a 60% interest in the improved petroleum recovery contract of the Yenangyaung field and also owns 60% of Goldpetrol which is the operator of the field.

Australian independent Beach Energy confirmed discoveries had been made in the first two exploration wells drilled on the Abu Sennan concession in Egypt�s Western Desert. The GPZZ-4 was the first well drilled in the planned six well program and Beach said hydrocarbon shows were observed in the lower and upper Bahariya formations, and the Abu Roash �G� member while drilling. It added a testing program was currently being carried out over those formations. Hydrocarbon shows were also encountered in the second well to be drilled, Al Ahmadi-1, in the Kharita formation, the lower Bahariya Formation, the Abu Roash �G� member and the Abu Roash �E� member.

Shell has had to declare force majeure on some oil exports from Nigeria after a rash of sabotage attacks caused a series of shut-ins this week.mThe drastic measure on exports of Bonny Light crude looks set to be in place until the start of November, according to a brief statement from the Anglo-Dutch supermajor on Tuesday. The move follows the revelation that a trunkline in Bayelsa state suffered six leaks totalling around 400 barrels of oil from sabotage attacks this month while a nearby delivery line was also hit with three cuts, forcing a production shut down on both facilities.

Brazil is unlikely to hold its 11th oil bidding round until early 2012, Mines and Energy Minister Edison Lobao said on Tuesday, according to a report. Brazil had hoped to hold the round later this year but President Dilma Rousseff is still reviewing the exploration and production blocks that are expected to be put up for auction, Reuters reported. Lobao said that the auction could occur in January or February of next year but that none of the highly sought after concession blocks in the subsalt area off Brazil's southeastern coast will be included in the new auction

Keppel Fels has agreed to give Luxembourg-based Discovery Offshore more time before it needs to decide whether or not to exercise its first rig construction option with the Singaporean company. Discovery awarded Keppel a $416 million contract earlier this year for two harsh environment jack-up rigs which carried an option for a further two rigs. Discovery said Keppel had agreed to push the exercise date on the first rig construction option back two months to late October. If Discovery elects to exercise the first option the rig would be scheduled for delivery during the third quarter of 2014. The option for the second rig must also still be exercised by October

Italian oil company Eni led the charge back into Libya on Monday as rebels hailing the end of Muammar Gaddafi's rule warned Russian and Chinese firms that they may lose out on lucrative oil contracts for failing to support the rebellion, a report said. Gaddafi's fall will reopen the doors to Africa's largest oil reserves and give new players such as Qatar's national oil company and trading house Vitol the chance to compete with established European and US oil majors, Reuters reported. "We don't have a problem with Western countries like the Italians, French and UK companies. But we may have some political issues with Russia, China and Brazil," Abdeljalil Mayouf, information manager at Libyan rebel oil firm AGOCO, told the news wire

Malaysia�s state-run Petronas is embarking on a 15 billion ringgit ($5 billion) project to develop gas reserves from a cluster of fields in the North Malay basin, off Peninsular Malaysia. Petronas said the project involved nine fields in Blocks PM301 and PM302 and in the Bergading contract area, about 300 kilometres off the coast. The project will also see the company, along with its production sharing contract partners, develop a 200 kilometre pipeline to transport gas from the fields to Kerteh, Terengganu. �Petronas and its PSC partners are undertaking the project on an accelerated basis, with the first delivery of 100 million standard cubic feet of gas per day expected by early 2013, ramping up to 250 MMcfd by 2015,� Petronas said in a statement

China has urged Libya to protect its investments and said their oil trade benefited both countries after a Libyan rebel official warned that Chinese oil companies could lose out after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi."China's investment in Libya, especially its oil investment, is one aspect of mutual economic cooperation between China and Libya, and this cooperation is in the mutual interest of both the people of China and Libya," the deputy head of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce trade department, Wen Zhongliang, told a news conference. Wen was answering a question about an official at the Libyan rebel oil company, AGOCO, who said on Monday that Russian and Chinese companies could lose out on oil contracts for failing to support the rebellion against long-time leader Gaddafi, Reuters reported

Bolivia�s state-owned oil company will team up with Petrovietnam to evaluate the natural gas potential in certain Bolivian fields, the Latin American nation said last week. Officials with YPFB said 19 August in a news release that they met with Vietnamese counterparts and agreed to a yearlong agreement for Petrovietnam to look for gas in the Isipote, Yoai and Algarrobilla regions. Once the study is complete, the two companies will consider negotiations for service work, YPFB said. �With this study and its results, we are sure that we will count on the presence of a new business in Bolivia,� YPFB president Carlos Villegas said.

The US Coast Guard is examining fresh images taken by a photographer purportedly showing an oil sheen on Gulf of Mexico waters at the site of last year�s Macondo oil spill. UK supermajor BP, the operator responsible for the worst-ever oil spill in the US Gulf, has earlier issued a denial that the capped Macondo well is leaking again following a number of reports of sheens in the area. However, the issue has resurfaced after photos taken on a flyover of the US Gulf on 19 August by non-profit watchdog Wings of Care were posted on the Internet, apparently showing an oily substance on the water in Mississippi Canyon block 252

Petrobras has still not managed to locate an operated helicopter and its four occupants which ditched into the sea off Macae on Friday. The search for the helicopter, which was returning from the P-65 rig on the Enchova field in the Campos Basin, resumed on Saturday morning after being suspended overnight. There were two crew members and two passengers onboard the craft which is believed to have made an emergency landing in the sea some 100 kilometres off Brazil�s south-east coast on Friday afternoon.

There has been no further oil leak from a flowline valve which was shut at Shell�s Gannet Alpha platform in the North Sea on Friday, the company reported. Close monitoring of the valve is, however, to continue over the weekend to make sure that there is no further leak, the Anglo-Dutch supermajor wrote in a statement on Saturday. Shell said on Friday that it had managed to shut down the valve on a flowline attached to the platform. A leak was first spotted around the facility on 10 August with some 1300 barrels of oil spilled. Thursday saw the company begin to place concrete mats, known as rock mattresses, on the flowline in an attempt to pin it down to the seabed

A purchase agreement concerning North Dakota oil and gas properties fell apart Thursday �due to unresolved issues,� a statement from Magnum Hunter Resources said on Friday. As outlined, the $57 million cash-and-stock deal would have transferred a 48% working interest in Williston basin properties from Kenmare, North Dakota-based Eagle Operating to a subsidiary of the Houston-based Magnum Hunter, the latter company claims. Staff who answered the phone at Eagle Operating said no one from the company was immediately available to comment.

BP's problems in the high-stakes Russian oil market mounted Friday with news that a Siberian court had set a hearing into a $3 billion claim by a local shareholder against the British energy giant, a Friday report said. The long-anticipated announcement came in the wake of this year's failed bid by BP to strike an unprecedented share swap and joint Arctic oil exploration agreement with the Russian state-held giant Rosneft, AFP reported. The May setback forced BP to reassess its growth strategy and jeopardized the health of TNK-BP -- the lucrative joint venture it created in Russia with a group of local tycoons in 2003.

Thousands of opponents of a $7 billion pipeline that would boost US dependence on Canadian oil sands plan to get arrested in protests over the next two weeks that they hope will help persuade the Obama administration to kill the project, a report Friday said.The State Department is set to issue a final environmental impact report this month on the Keystone XL pipeline project that would bring oil sands petroleum from Alberta to Texas refineries, Reuters reported. The department hopes to make a final decision on the TransCanada Corp line by the end of the year

Swedish explorer Lundin Petroleum has kicked off drilling of an exploration well at its Batu Hitam prospect off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. The Batu Hitam-1 probe, being drilled by Seadrill jack-up Offshore Courageous, will test the hydrocarbon potential of a large basement high structure in Lundin-operated block PM308A. It will be drilled to a planned total depth of 2450 metres and is expected to take about 40 days to complete.

Chinese oil services newcomer SinoTech Energy is being held to account by the Nasdaq bourse after its shares were suspended over what it terms �blatantly self-interested� and �mercenary� allegations leveled at it by a website. The minnow plans to �cooperate fully� with the New York exchange after allegations made by short seller www.alfredlittle.com that it employed the services of shell companies and its �oil drilling technology is questionable, mispriced and uncompetitive� sent its shares crashing on Wednesday.

The clean-up effort following spills from two ConocoPhillips-operated platforms on an oilfield off China will be completed by the end of August, the US supermajor has vowed. The promise came the day after the company revealed it had restarted production at some platforms in Bohai Bay after they were ordered shut by Chinese officials following the separate spill incidents which began in June. Platform B on the Penglai 19-3 oilfield continues to seep about one litre of oil per day, although this is immediately captured. The platform first suffered a leak on 4 June

Libyan rebels reportedly could resume output at two oilfields with total capacity of about 250,000 barrels per day in about three weeks after security has been assured. "Our fields are under maintenance and we're still waiting for security," Abdeljalil Mayouf, information manager at Libya's Arabian Gulf Oil Company, which is operating the Sarir and Mesla fields, told Reuters. "When the security is okay we will start. Perhaps two or three weeks after the improvement in security. In three weeks maybe," he said.

The West Australian government has determined appeals against the Environmental Protection Authority�s (EPA) report on Chevron�s Wheatstone liquefied natural gas project in the north-west of the state. In a statement on Friday Environment Minister Bill Marmion said in determining the appeals he considered the need for �world�s best practice standards� and as a result approved 24 conditions to limit environmental impacts. �These strict conditions will protect marine fauna, including whales, turtles and dugongs, require A$13million (US$13.5 million) in environmental offsets, and require the company to offset reservoir greenhouse gases which may be up to 2.6 million tonnes each year,� he said.

France�s Technip has received a letter of intentFrance�s Technip has received a letter of intent from US independent Anadarko Petroleum for the engineering construction and transport of a truss spar hull for the Lucius field development in the Gulf of Mexico. The letter of intent will allow Technip to begin preliminary work on the project, including ordering long-lead items for the 23,000 tonne hull prior to the planned sanction date of December this year. Technip said the Lucius spar would have a capacity of more than 80,000 barrels of oil and 450 million cubic feet of gas per day

Baker Hughes Introduces Advanced Reservoir Characterization TechnologyServices gather formation pressures and fluid samples in HP/HT environments HOUSTON, TEXAS � Aug. 16, 2011 � Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI) has introduced the next generation of its Reservoir Characterization eXplorer� (RCX�) and In-situ Fluids eXplorer� (IFX�) formation testing services.Used jointly, these services accurately characterize fluid properties in real time�eliminating the need for extensive and time-consuming analyses. Combined with other formation evaluation techniques, they provide critical information about a reservoir�s commercial viability.

Floating production specialist Floatec plans to launch a series of model tests of its dry-tree semi-submersible concept at the Lab Oceano wave basin facility in Brazil. The tests, which will involve Floatec�s proprietary extendable draft semi-submersible (EDS) and its deep draft semisub, would represent the first attempt to apply dry-tree technology to the challenges of the pre-salt province. Companies are eagerly positioning themselves for what is certain to be a lucrative new round of tenders for floating production units to develop the pre-salt. Bid documents for those tenders are expected to emerge in early September, Floatec�s wave basin tests will be carried out beginning in September at Lab Oceano�s laboratory, a part of the research and development arm of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, the company said in a release.Houston-based Floatec is a 50:50 joint venture between McDermott and Keppel Fels

YPFB-Andina indicated it is ahead of schedule in drilling the closely-watched Sararenda X1 wildcat well in the Guairuy field in Bolivia�s sparsely populated Chaco region. The La Paz-based, state-owned company said the well � which is expected to test deep objectives in the Huamampampa Formation below 4800 meters � in July was drilling below 3500 meters, according to the company on 11 August. Repsol of Spain holds 49% in YPFB-Andina. The venture began spinning the drilling bit at the Sararenda-X1 in December after it received the Petrex-owned PTX-5918 rig to drill the well.

Onshore-drilling giant Nabors Industries is planning to issue a sale of 10-year unsecured notes and intends to use the proceeds for general corporate purposes, including repayment of debt. Nabors, the world's largest land-drilling contractor, hopes to raise $700 million in the debt sale, according to a Dow Jones report citing a person familiar with the deal. A Nabors spokesman was unable to confirm the size of the sale but said more details would be available later on Tuesday

A recent run of exploration success for Det Norske Oljeselskap failed to reverse red numbers in the second quarter and the company is now rationalizing its operations. The Norwegian player was basking in glory on Tuesday as its share price on the Oslo bourse leaped more than 26% after it was revealed that reserves at the Aldous Major South discovery, in which it has a 20% stake, are much greater than expected. The North Sea find is now believed to hold between 400 million and 800 million barrels � double the original estimate � while the combined Aldous-Avaldsnes area could hold up to 1.2 billion barrels, according to operator Statoil.

Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Arabia�s PetroSaudi International, to jointly explore, develop and produce oil and gas and related services in Ghana. Ghana, Africa's newest crude producer, began pumping oil last December from its Jubilee oilfield, operated by UK energy company Tullow Oil."GNPC and PetroSaudi will explore joint ventures in oil and gas exploration, development and production; oilfield services and infrastructure," Reuters quoted GNPC as sayingwithout giving further details. The head of GNPC told Reuters details of how the two companies would work together had yet to be worked out

Houston-based drilling contractor Atwood Oceanics has secured a rig contract with Chevron Australia. The six-month contract for the semi-submersible Atwood Eagle will yield a dayrate of about $370,000 and is expected to extend to July 2012

Statoil may have hit "one of the ten largest oil finds ever on the Norwegian Continental Shelf" as it ups its estimate from recent discoveries. There could be as many as 1.2 billion barrels of recoverable oil equivalent between the Aldous and Avaldsnes discoveries with more appraisal wells planned for next year on the former, the Norwegian oil giant wrote on Tuesday. Communication between the two discoveries has now been confirmed which has led to a higher degree of optimism over the finds at Statoil. "In combination these discoveries may represent an oil structure of between 500 million and 1.2 billion barrels of recoverable oil equivalent," Statoil wrote.

The Vietnamese government has given approval for state oil group Petrovietnam to produce between 23 million and 34 million tonnes of oil and gas a year by 2015, from around 23 million tonnes this year, a report said Monday. Petrovietnam will step up exploration and production to increase the country's recoverable reserves of oil to 35 million-45 million tonnes a year under its 2011-2015 development plan, Reuters reported the government saying in a statement. The goal shows a significant boost from the group's targets for this year, with crude oil production to reach 15 million tonnes, unchanged from 2010, and natural gas output of 8.5 billion cubic metres

The offshore construction division of Singapore-based Emas has been awarded a contract to carry out offshore installation services for US supermajor Chevron in the Gulf of Thailand.The contract will see Emas AMC install a number of wellhead platforms and associated pipelines over a three year period, with an option for an additional two years. Emas said the award took the offshore construction division�s order book for the year to over $600 million. �The total subsea order book for Emas AMC is now past the halfway mark and is closer to our short-term target of $1 billion for the segment,� Emas managing director Lionel Lee said.

Australian independent Santos has commenced drilling on the Sampdoria-1 exploration well on the Wompi Block in ATP 752P, Queensland. The well will be drilled to a total depth of 1835 metres and target sands in the basal Birkhead formation and Hutton sandstone with secondary targets in the McKinlay member and Namur formation. Sampdoria-1 lies about four kilometres to the north-east of the producing Genoa oilfield which is situated on the neighbouring PL 68 permit.

Chinese maritime authorities are considering demanding more than 100 million yuan ($15.6 million) in compensation from CNOOC Ltd and ConocoPhillips following a spill at their jointly-owned Bohai Bay oilfield, according to reports. Citing unnamed sources, the Economic Information Daily said government officials were working on plans to deal with the ongoing spill at the Penglai 19-3 oilfield, Reuters reported. Operator ConocoPhillips China said on Friday that as many as 2500 barrels of oil and mud had leaked from the oilfield in the Bohai Bay, off the coast of northern China.

Australia-listed Entek Energy has brought its Galveston Area A133 (GA A133) gas discovery on stream in the Gulf of Mexico. Entek said the development of the discovery had been completed and it was now flowing gas at a restricted rate of 9.5 million cubic feet per day. The GA 133 discovery was made late last year and Entek said the block was estimated to hold gross reserves of about 10 billion cubic feet.

Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi have fired a scud missile towards the coastal oil town of Brega, the first firing since the uprising against his rule began six months ago, according to reports. The missile was fired on Sunday morning local time from a location about 80 kilometres east of Gaddafi�s hometown of Sirte, but it landed in the desert and injured no-one, a US defence official told Reuters. It was unclear what Gaddafi might have been targeting, the official said, without speculating about the motives behind a missile launch that came in the wake of recent rebel gains that have increased pressure on the Libyan leader

A joint venture between a trio of Australian companies is looking to either sell or farm-out their Duvernay shale and Rock Creek petroleum rights in Alberta, Canada. TranServ Energy, Mako Energy and Kilgore Oil & Gas said Tuesday they had engaged Macquarie Capital as advisor for the potential farm-out or sale. TranServ said last month rising prices for Canadian acreage could prompt it to sell is Duvernay shale rights. It said prices had hit a record high of over $5000 per hectare, compared to an average of $200 per hectare it had paid in the past.

Offshore drilling contractor Transocean has launched a Nkr7.9 billion ($1.4 billion) bid for Norway�s Aker Drilling. Transocean has offered to buy all the outstanding shares in Aker Drilling for Nkr26.50 per share, which representes a 62% premium over Aker Drilling�s 30 day average price of Nkr16.39 per share. Transocean said Aker Drilling�s board of directors had unanimously recommended shareholders accept the offer. It added it had inked an irrevocable agreement with Aker Capital on Sunday to purchase 41% of the outstanding shares in Aker Drilling.

The subsea oil leak close to Shell�s Gannet Alpha platform has slowed further as new indications of the size of the spill emerged despite no official confirmation. Shell is understood to be estimating the amount of oil now on the surface of the sea as being between 12 and 120 barrels, down from earlier estimates of between 200 and 1000 barrels. However, this is after some natural dispersion and there remains no exact confirmation of the amount that has leaked into the sea. An inspection carried out on Saturday night by a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) showed the leak rate had reduced, the Anglo-Dutch supermajor reported on Sunday afternoon

UK-based Centrica has spudded the first of three wells in its Butch prospect in licences PL405 and 405BS in the Norwegian North Sea. The prospect, awarded to Faroe Petroleum in 2006, is seven kilometres east of the Ula field and 10 kilometres north east of the Tambar field. Drilling of the exploration well, which will use the Maersk Guardian drilling rig, is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2011. Centrica holds a 40% operating stake in the prospect, while Faroe holds 15%. The remaining stakes are held by Suncor (30%) and Spring Energy Norway (15%). Faroe chief executive Graham Stewart said the prospect was an exciting opportunity to test a good prospect in the formation

London-listed Max Petroleum has kicked off drilling at another appraisal well at a Kazakh reservoir previously described as �excellent quality�. The Kazakhstan-focused outfit spudded the UTS-3 well on the Uytas prospect in Block A, it announced on Monday. Total depth on the well, which is targeting Cretaceous and Jurassic reservoirs, is expected to hit around 800 metres. Max has only recently logged indications of 12 metres of net oil pay in the Cretaceous section in its UTS-2 confirmation well. Significant oil shows were recorded continuously from 36 to 150 meters, which appear to confirm the oil column seen in the original UTS-1 discovery well

UK services player Hunting has agreed to buy US-based Dearborn Precision Tubular Products for $85 million. Hunting said the purchase of the US company, which provides specialist precision machining services, would be funded from its existing cash and bank borrowing facilities. It added it expected the acquisition to to be earnings enhancing in the first full financial year before acquisition costs and normal acquisition adjustments such as fair value adjustments and the amortisation of intangible assets.

US oilfield services giant National Oilwell Varco (NOV) has signed a $1.5 billion contract to provide drilling equipment packages for seven drillships to shipyard company Estaleiro Atlantico Sul,The packages will include drilling riser and pressure control equipment, NOV said in its announcement. NOV chief executive Pete Miller said deepwater discoveries in Brazil had made the nation a significant offshore market for the company. �We are investing heavily in Brazil to manufacture more of the products and technologies National Oilwell Varco provides to our oil and gas customers, and to service the rapidly growing installed base of NOV drilling equipment in the region,� he said

Australian independent Beach Energy has made a new field oil discovery in PEL 92 in the Western Flank of South Australia�s onshore Cooper basin. The Elliston-1 well encountered an oil column with net pay of three metres in the Namur sandstone section of the well. It added the reservoir appeared to be of high quality with the potential to deliver strong flow rates. Based on its preliminary volumetric assessment Beach estimated the discovery to hold about 100,000 barrels of recoverable oil

The UK oil and gas industry has successfully tested its ability to deploy a well capping device in the waters west of Shetland. As part of the industry's commitment to further strengthen the UK's emergency response capabilities, the Oil Spill Prevention and Response Advisory Group (OSPRAG) has undertaken a number of initiatives to improve well engineering and oil spill response capability, including the development of a well capping device for use in UK waters to seal-off an uncontrolled subsea oil well in the unlikely event of a major well control incident.

Oklahoma Pipe line boom arrest An Oklahoma man was arrested and charged on Friday with trying to destroy a natural gas pipeline with a homemade bomb, the FBI said. The Oklahoma City division of the FBI said on Friday that Daniel Wells Herriman, 40, of Konawa, Oklahoma, called Seminole County 911 emergency response on Wednesday and said he had made the device at his home, Reuters reported. He said that he put it under the above-ground pipeline on Sunday in a remote area near Okemah, about 75 miles (120 kilometres) east of Oklahoma City and set the timer

Shell is battling to contain a subsea oil leak close to the Gannet Alpha platform in the UK North Sea. The Anglo-Dutch supermajor confirmed this afternoon it was managing an oil leak in a flowline that serves the platform. There is as yet no formal confirmation of the size and scale of the spill. Shell said a light sheen was noticed in the area on Wednesday.

Excitement as Well results boost BP's hopes There is early excitement within supermajor BP about a potential development phase at a prolific oilfield on the UK Atlantic Margin after an appraisal well completed last week delivered promising results.

Petrobras chief executive Jose Sergio Gabrielli said the company will likely be fined by the Brazilian government because it cannot prove that it met rules requiring some use of locally produced equipment, a report Friday said. Prior to the seventh round of oil concessions, held in 2005, Petrobras had no way to document what portion of the oil-exploration equipment it used was produced in Brazil, the head of the state-controlled oil company said in an interview on the Globo television network, Dow Jones reported. "Petrobras will be fined because we didn't have a system in place to prove" the national content, he said.

Iranian gas flow to Turkey has been halted due to an explosion on the pipeline in Turkey overnight, a Turkish Energy Ministry official said Friday. "Repairs have been started on the Turkey-Iran pipeline. The repairs and restarting of gas flows will take one week," the official told Reuters. He said Turkey was buying additional gas from Azerbaijan and Russia to cover the shortfall caused by the explosion, which according to state-run Anatolian news agency occurred in the eastern Turkish province of Agri. Iran is Turkey's second-biggest supplier of natural gas after Russia, sending 10 billion cubic meters of gas each year. Turkey uses gas to fire half of its power plants

Singapore-based supply vessel player Swiber Holdings said Friday it has landed three new contracts worth $82 million.Swiber did not give specific contract details but said the projects were for Southeast Asian oil companies and include pipeline installation work, mobilisation of marine vessels, equipment, and personnel. All three projects will start straight away with completion targeted for the second quarter of next year. To date, Swiber has secured new contracts totalling $377 million this year.

China�s export-import bank has loaned $60 million to the drilling plan of Bolivia�s national oil company, a report said this week. The investment, reported by the La Razon newspaper of La Paz, will bolster the programme of YPFB, which told the paper earlier this year it plans an �aggressive� drilling plan that includes 15 exploratory wells and 26 for development

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