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    Norwest Energy Cheers Latest Well Result From The Puffin Field
    Norwest Energy may only have a 1.25 per cent royalty interest in the Puffin field in the Timor Sea but that minority interest, which comes with no costs attached, is something of a financial lifeline for the ASX-listed E&P. In the third quarter, the company received royalty payments of over US$710,000, a tally that could rise in the wake of recent drilling results on the field.

    The Puffin field, which lies in AC/P22 permit in the Vulcan Sub-basin off northern Western Australia, started producing in October 2007 but has encountered production problems, reducing the predicted royalty stream. Work is underway to rectify these problems and to extend the limits of the field by drilling two new wells.

    The first well, Puffin-11, has been drilled to appraise the southwest portion of the field and the initial results are encouraging. The well intercepted a 25 metre oil-bearing interval in Late Cretaceous sandstones with two main sand packages, both of which have been flow tested. The well tested at rates of up to 3,600 barrels of light oil (43-45 degree API) per day, a rate that was constrained by the testing equipment. It is thought the completed production well will flow at an initial rate of 10,000 bpd. Puffin-11 has been classed as a new discovery, with the highly permeable reservoir being separate from the other as-yet undeveloped sandstone reservoirs in the Puffin South West region (these are the LK1a reservoir at Puffin-9 and the UK1a reservoir at Puffin-9 and at Puffin-2). The well has now been suspended pending further well planning work.

    The second well in the current programme, Puffin-12, will now be drilled in the northeast of the field. This is a development well with a primary objective to complete a 200 metre reservoir interval within the Lower Cretaceous sand package (LK1a). The well will be tied- backed to the existing manifold of Puffin- 7 and Puffin- 8 and then through to the FPSO Front Puffin via the existing sub-sea system (which is due for an upgrade to help with production management).

    The initial success from the first of the two wells will help distract from the disappointment of the recent Wisteria-1 exploration well, which was drilled in nearby permit AC/P32 (Norwest 15 per cent) to target a possible 200 million barrel prospect just 20 km from the nearest production facilities. The difficult-to-drill and over-budget well was drilled to a depth of 3,281 metres and intersected all three target reservoirs - the Puffin formation, the Montara sandstone and the Plover Sandstone – but failed to find reservoir quality sandstones or significant hydrocarbon shows.

    This was a disappointment for Norwest but increasingly the ASX company is focused on the northern hemisphere, where it is building an interesting exploration portfolio in the UK. The Spring of 2008 saw the company see success with the Cobra 48/2c-5 appraisal well in the North Sea. The EnCore Oil-operated well found a 392 feet gas column, pointing to a significant volume of gas in the Cobra structure, but the reservoir quality was found to be low quality compared to the original discovery well that was drilled backed in 1984. That well encountered tight gas at a depth of 3,500 metres, proving up 65-95 billion cubic feet with additional upside of up to 450 bcf. A subsequent technical review of the data indicates a likely 300 billion cubic feet gas resource, of which half or more might be recoverable. Experience from a nearby analogue field indicates that wells drilled laterally through the reservoir could potentially produce at rates per well in excess of 20 million cubic feet per day. A technical review is underway as the partners mull the potential for development of this low permeability gas discovery.

    Norwest is also active onshore UK, with a 50 per cent interest in PEDL 238 in Dorset, which lies just to the north of BP’s giant Wytch Farm oilfield, and 75 per cent of PEDL 239 on the Isle of Wight, where an airborne gravity gradiometric programme is planned for Q4 2008. The company is keen to pick up more opportunities in the UK, where it sees greater potential for growth than on home turf. Even so, it is Australia that for now supplies those all important cash flows (from Puffin and from a 1.278 per cent interest in the onshore Jingemia oilfield), which could start to mount if Puffin-11 delivers on its initial promise.
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