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Hardman Shares Fall as Mauritania Well Discovers G

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    Hardman Shares Fall as Mauritania Well Discovers Gas (Update1)
    By Angela Macdonald-Smith

    Perth, Australia, Sept. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Hardman Resources Ltd. shares had their biggest one-day decline in thirteen months after the oil explorer said its latest exploration well offshore Mauritania in West Africa found mostly gas rather than oil.

    Hardman, based in Perth, has a 24.3 percent stake in the Banda exploration well, which is being led by Australia's number two oil and gas producer Woodside Petroleum Ltd. ENI SpA, Roc Oil Co. and Fusion Oil & Gas Plc also have stakes in the well.

    The partners, who were targeting a 290 million barrel oil prospect, found 110 meters of gas over a 133-meter drill section, with oil making up the balance, Hardman said in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange.

    ``It's certainly not the big prize that they were hoping for,'' said Andrew Williams, oil and gas analyst at Melbourne- based Auzeq Securities Ltd. It ``obviously isn't going to be anywhere near commercial in its own right,'' he said.

    After completing the Banda well, the drill rig will move on to drill the next appraisal well at the deepwater Chinguetti oil discovery, made in May 2001, Hardman said.

    ``The option for a quick development (in Mauritania) is still going to rest with Chinguetti,'' Williams said.

    Banda is the first significant gas discovery in Mauritania, said Hardman Managing Director Ted Ellyard in the statement. ``Further evaluation and appraisal drilling will be required to fully determine the nature and commercial potential of the hydrocarbon accumulation at Banda.''

    Hardman shares fell 9 Australian cents, or 10.5 percent, to close at 77 cents on the exchange. Woodside shares fell 14 cents, or 1.1 percent, to A$12.59, after earlier falling 1.7 percent to A$12.51. Roc Oil shares fell 1 cent to A$1.42.


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