Analyst Wrap

Arc Energy and Origin Energy, partners of the Hovea joint venture, have officially opened their Hovea Production Facility in the Perth Basin while production from the nearby Jingemia oilfield has lifted the daily production of junior partner VicPet to 130 barrels per day, with a little help from its US oilfields.

Alinta and Alcoa are getting closer to getting the green light for their gas-fired co-generation facility at Alcoa's Pinjarra Alumina Refinery in the south west of Western Australia.

Flares from the Cheal-1 well have lit up the central Taranaki night sky during production testing of the re-entered well on the North Island of NZ. An independent report has confirmed the robust economics and significant value of the offshore Taranaki Maari oil field.

Lingering in the land of the long white cloud, Houston-headquartered Swift Energy will be spending more on its New Zealand activities as well as expanding its role by providing operational support to Westech Energy's Surrey field operations.

New Zealand Energy Minister Pete Hodgson postulated that Kiwis need to break the link between economic growth and the escalating use of fossil fuels, after noting the energy sector's gross carbon dioxide emissions grew by 2.7% during 2001-02 and that average annual growth since 1990 has been 2.4%.

On the exploration front, Woodside has continued its exploration in the Gulf of Mexico by spudding the Neptune-5 appraisal well last week while Cooper Basin juniors, Beach Petroleum and Cooper Energy, have posted another winner with the Christies-1 well. And in Old Blighty, Magellan Petroleum has been awarded a 50% interest in two licences in the south.

In CBM news, Sydney Gas has laid plans for a five well pilot project to begin in the Hunter Valley before Christmas while the NSW government is keen to jump on the bandwagon following the launch of a Federal and NSW Government jointly funded "Northeastern NSW Natural Gas Study".

Despite a series of recent setbacks life has been forced back into the PNG gas pipeline with the signing of a conditional gas supply agreement to supply, among other customers, the new Gladstone alumina refinery. Also in pipeline news, work is now progressing on the Thai-Malaysian gas pipeline after a troubled and sometimes violent beginning, with a new completion date set for two years time.

On the LNG front, the Indonesian government has being forced to look within in order to support flagging sales and international demand.

In the markets, Woodside Petroleum sold its 6.7% interest in Papua New Guinea-based Oil Search for $62 million while Energy World Corporation has made a sizeable advance on its long standing Commonwealth Bank debt - buying another two year's space and allowing the company to return its focus towards oil & gas.

The news just gets worse for the beleaguered contracting firm, McConnell Dowell (MDC). Currently in the middle of a contested takeover dispute between the majority and minority shareholders, plus being chased by creditors from Vietnam, the company is now fighting off allegations of failure to fulfill a contract in a Sydney waste to fuel project.

On the water, American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and the Spanish government have clashed head on with claims and counter claims about responsibility for the Prestige oil tanker disaster off the Spanish coast.

In Africa, Nigerian trade union leaders have called off a nationwide strike after agreeing to a deal with the government over fuel prices while US President George Bush has embarked on a whirlwind visit to a number of African states. Concurrently, another nine blocks in the burgeoning West Africa oil sector have been put up for licensing in the Joint Development Zone (JDZ) between Nigeria and São Tomé and Príncipe.

Brunei and Malaysia are talking about their contested maritime boundaries while in Europe, Amity and the state-owned TPAO have approved work programs for the simultaneous, fast-tracked development of both the Adatepe and Cayirdere gas discoveries, with work expected to commence within weeks.

In what is possibly a sign of things to come the US administration in Iraq has imposed its will on several international companies intending to explore the country's oil potential.

Tension over Iran's nuclear program may prove to be a financial windfall for Russian oil producers as Japan moves to promote a Siberian pipeline plan as an alternative source of fuel. And in yet another setback to its production plans, Iraq's northern export pipeline via Turkey was damaged by a new sabotage blast over the weekend.

To round off, the Australian joint venture partners in Block 22/12, Beibu Gulf, offshore China have received approval for their proposed 2003 drilling program of two firm wells and two contingent exploration/appraisal wells.

Meanwhile, operator Roc Oil has rejected the speculation that the company may be a potential takeover target which teaches chief John Doran a lesson for taking what his company described as his first extended holiday for over 10 years. While the cat's away the rumour mongers play.


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