Analyst Wrap

The biggest story of the week saw Shares in Stuart Petroleum and Cooper Energy jump through the roof following consecutive oil strikes at the Worrior-1 well in the Cooper/Eromanga basin. The find puts the companies on the verge of the largest discovery in the region since the first oil strike in Moomba in 1997.
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The popularity of the Basin continues to grow with Victoria Petroleum extending its presence by funding 25% of the drilling of the upcoming Cooper Basin Eucalyptus-1 well in exchange for a 10% interest in PEL 88. Impress Ventures (ITC) has also dived in head first entering an agreement to acquire a 15% working interest in five exploration permits from Victoria Petroleum.

OPEC sprung another big surprise by announcing a 900,000-barrel cut in production quotas at its meeting in Vienna, a move which saw crude prices jump by over a US dollar. Member's states also warned of another cut at the next OPEC meeting in December.

Following a $US48,950,000 private placement InterOil has accelerated its PNG drilling program by contracting the Simmons Rig #3, a heli-portable conventional oilfield rig, which is currently being mobilised and is expected to begin drilling on Sterling Mustang in October.

Amity Oil has launched a bid to raise $10,000,000 to fund its field development in Turkey with an issue of up to 5,000,000 convertible notes at $2.00 each and following the release of three new permits in southeast Australia Petroleum companies are planning to invest more than $66 million over the next six years in the exploration of the region.

Unocal has agreed to sell 70 properties in the Gulf of Mexico and onshore Louisiana to Forest Oil Corporation for $US295 million as part of a profitability initiative, while Shell Exploration & Production (SEPCo) has entered into a $445 million sale agreement for all of its Michigan oil and natural gas wells, plus related facilities, to Merit Energy.

The future of the Methanex New Zealand plants looks even bleaker with news that Todd Energy is going out to tender for 100 Petajoules of McKee and Mangahewa gas, gas that Methanex has previously had under contract. Todd Energy is also in an acquisition mood having bought an additional 9.86% interest in the Pohokura field from Austrian firm OMV Petroleum for an undisclosed sum.

OMV Petroleum and Sydney-headquartered New Zealand Oil and Gas have also surrendered several Taranaki exploration licences to concentrate on the appraisal and development of their commercial Taranaki interests. Despite this sale Taranaki is looking to its second consecutive busy offshore summer, with rumours of the possible return of the Bounty, or the arrival of the sister vessel Ocean Epoch, or even a Sedco or Ensco jack-up rig for perhaps a six-well program.

Petronas is trying to attract overseas investors by offering up to 14 new deepwater oil and gas exploration sites in order to replenish the existing declining existing fields. The areas on offer are off the coast of Sabah and Sarawak and lie at depths of around 200-1,000m.

Murphy Oil is already in deep in the region announcing that its oil and gas exploration activities in Malaysia, in conjunction with Petronas, will exceed $US421 million for 2004.

The Indonesian House of Representatives on the other hand has moved to protect geothermal investors by passing a bill designed to provide legal certainty for investors investing in Indonesia's high-risk geothermal sector. The law is also designed to protect the public from environmental hazards brought about by geothermal exploration activities.

However, Australian political representatives have been blasted for inaction with the gas access regime coming under fire again. APIA executive director, Dr Allen Beasley, told a Productivity Commission hearing in Sydney that errors in the design of the gas access regime have made the system unworkable for Australia's gas transmission sector.

In a move bound to grab the attention of Australian and South East Asian LNG producers, MP Ahmad Azimi of the Majlis Energy Commission told the Mehr News Agency that Iran plans to market its LNG globally, with an eye on the booming market in East Asia.

There appears to be a ready made market for Iran's supply as China announced plans to increase its electricity generation capacity from 319 million kW in 2000 to 960 million kW by 2020 by increasing the volume of electricity generated by gas burning.

As the Federal Government continues to pour over the findings of the Prosser Inquiry into exploration expenditure, US investment manager Cornell Capital Partners has approached the local market with what it says is an innovative and flexible form of capital raising.

The allocation of vital US reconstruction contracts in Iraq has also come under fire after Vice President Dick Cheney's former company Halliburton secured several billion dollars worth of work in no-bid deals, starting with an initial $US37.5 million contract in February to put out oil fires.

Finally, the international reputation of Santos managing director John Ellice-Flint has received a boost after he placed 29th in the Oil & Gas International "2003 World's Top 50 Oil & Gas Personalities".

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