Apache announces Australian oil discovery

SYDNEY - US energy firm Apache on Monday announced an oil discovery off northwestern Australia which it said could potentially represent a new oil province for the country.

The find at the Phoenix South-1 well is the first for Apache Energy in the Canning Basin, some 180 kilometers north of the Western Australian town of Port Hedland.

"Although evaluation is at an early stage, Phoenix South-1 is an exciting result," said Apache's executive vice-president and chief operating officer for international operations, Thomas E. Voytovich. "The oil and reservoir quality we have seen point to a commercial discovery. If these results are borne out by further appraisal drilling, Phoenix South may represent a new oil province for Australia."

The company said that in a statement it had confirmed at least four discrete oil columns. "Measurements from the sampled zones indicate a productive oil reservoir with preliminary estimates that there might be as much as 300 million barrels of oil in place," it said. The company cautioned that evaluation of the find was underway, and additional analysis was needed.

Carnarvon Petroleum, which holds a 20 per cent interest in the exploration permit, said the discovery represented one of the most significant developments in Australian oil and gas in recent times.

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