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    Talking about Rigs ... From todays West Australian ...

    "Drill success confounds Amity's plans

    By Michael Weir

    THE success of the northern Perth basin has forced Amity Oil to delay drilling the Whicher Range gas well in the South-West.

    Amity has been locked in negotiations with northern Perth basin operators Arc Energy and Origin Energy and drilling contractor Century Drilling in a bid to get access to its sought-after deep drilling rig.

    Onshore northern Perth basin operators have a program of 12 wells planned for the next year, worth between $30 million and $40 million, providing nearly a full workload for the Century-24 rig. Amity's make-or-break well at Whicher Range, near Busselton, would take about 45 days to drill but two weeks either side would be required to get the drilling rig on site and then back up to the Dongara region and ready for another well.

    Amity executive director Peter Allchurch said all parties were working to come up with a solution.

    "We are just trying to get an agreement where we can get a slot between those other wells," he said.

    "We got ourselves to a position last week where it's all ready, we have the approvals, the joint venture partner and all the money, we just don't have a dancing partner."

    He said it was possible Century, which is owned by engineering and contracting group Downer EDI, could bring a smaller rig from the Cooper Basin to help with the workload.

    Arc managing director Eric Streitberg said it was hoped to have a resolution within a week.

    "What has brought this about is there is so much action in the northern Perth basin," he said. "In years gone by there would be one well a year, but last year we drilled eight and there are 12 in total planned for onshore this year."

    The Perth basin has come to life in the past two years on the back of four key oil discoveries: Hovea, Cliff Head, Jingemia and Eremia.

    Hovea is already on line for Arc and Origin, Eremia will follow shortly and a development decision on the offshore Cliff Head is expected later this year.

    Amity has farmed-out 35 per cent of the Whicher Range-5 well to Korea's State-owned Korea National Oil Corporation and Seoul City Gas Company, which will put $6.7 million towards the $12 million well.

    Whicher Range contains an estimated 3.7 trillion cubic feet of gas, but the project has been plagued by technical difficulties. The well will use a proven technique used successfully on "tight" gas reservoirs in the US.

    Amity shares rose 3¢ to $1.07 on Friday."

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