Tap aims to bag elephants

TAP Oil has increased its 2005 exploration budget by A$5 million to A$40 million and announced it is targeting three “elephant-sized” fields – two in the Carnarvon Basin and one off New Zealand’s South Island – for drilling later this year.

Perth-based Tap, in an investor presentation yesterday, said it was now budgeting to spend about A$40 million participating in the drilling up to 35 wells in Australia and New Zealand this year.

Its program included three very large targets –Jacala-1 (in which Tap holds a 25% interest) and Marley-1 (12.2%) in the offshore Carnarvon Basin, and Barque-1 off Otago in New Zealand.

Tap estimated the Jacala prospect could hold over one billion barrels of recoverable oil, Marley 1.5 tcf of gas plus liquids, and Barque 5-6 tcf of gas and 500 million barrels of oil.

Both Jacala and Marley (within the Harriet joint venture) could be drilled from October and Barque from December, depending on rig availability, and Tap said it wanted to farm out half its present 50% stake in PEP 38259, which contained the Barque prospect.

Tap admitted its onshore Taranaki drilling campaign had been disappointing so far this year. Hihi-1 (PEP 38748), Miromiro-1 (PEP 38765), Hursthouse-1 (PEP 38745) and Kakariki-1 (PEP 38748) were all dry holes.

But the company said it was hoping for better results with its remaining wells for the year – Supplejack-1 (PEP 38741), scheduled for June, Richmond-1 (PEP 38745) in July, and Takahe-1 (PEP 38744) in August. All would also be targeting shallow Miocene-aged plays.

It was also considering drilling a follow-up well to the unsuccessful Tawatawa-1 well in the Offshore East Coast Basin licence PEP 38333 next year.

Tap said this year’s exploration offered more spread of risk-reward and included some non-Harriet JV wells, with rigs scheduled for most well for the rest of the year.