HDR hardman resources limited

from west australian

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    Woodside ups stake in
    Mauritania partner



    WOODSIDE Petroleum Ltd has picked up a further 10
    million shares in its Mauritania joint venture partner
    Hardman Resources Ltd, signalling its growing
    optimism towards the region.

    Woodside secured the additional shares as part of a
    wider placement of Hardman stock that could net the
    oil and gas junior $39.9 million if it is fully subscribed.

    Hardman's brokers Canaccord Capital (Europe) Ltd in
    the United Kingdom and Europe and Macquarie Equity
    Capital Markets Ltd and Intersuisse Ltd in Australia
    are currently coordinating the placement of up to 57
    million shares, equivalent to 15 per cent of its issued
    capital.

    The price in Australia has been set at 70 cents per
    share and at 24.5 pence for shares issued in the
    United Kingdom and Europe.

    Woodside said its $7 million investment, which could
    lift its stake in Hardman from 9.92 per cent to 10.86
    per cent, underscored its confidence in Mauritania as
    a growth region.

    "The joint venture has now drilled three prospects
    offshore Mauritania and has made two promising
    discoveries, increasing Woodside's optimism for the
    area," the company said.

    Woodside emerged as Hardman's major shareholder
    in July last year when it paid $1.10 per share for 33
    million shares in the company.

    Hardman director Scott Spencer said Woodside's
    comments show the group was keen to maintain its
    interest in the company and that it endorsed
    Hardman's strategy to raise additional capital.

    "If we continue to have success there (in Mauritania)
    the scope of exploration work is going to expand next
    year...so we need to have adequate funds to
    underpin our involvement in the ongoing work
    programs," Mr Scott told AAP.

    He said the company had sufficient cash for its
    current drilling programs and it did not need the
    placement to be fully subscribed.

    "It is not a figure we are setting our sights on or
    aiming for... it is not a sum of money we have to raise
    by next month or something like that.

    "We're actually very well covered for the current
    work program, this is for the future."

    He conceded it was "tricky" undertaking a capital
    raising in the middle of a drilling campaign but said the
    timing was dictated by "longer term planning" with
    decisions about next year's work program "not that
    far away."

    The third Chinguetti well at Mauritania was spudded
    on Tuesday and is expected to provide enough
    information about the field to result in a firm reserve
    estimate.

    Hardman has previously estimated a reserve of 110
    million barrels from the Chinguetti field which could
    potentially move into production by 2005.

    "That sort of time frame is something the joint venture
    would like to try and work towards," Mr Spencer
    said.

 
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