Australian upstream company Bounty Oil said it has outlined a ‘busy’ schedule of exploration and production activities in Africa, Australia and New Zealand for this year.

It recently drilled the Nyuni-1 well in offshore Tanzania, West Africa to a depth of 3,355 metres. The field has an estimated 260 million barrels of oil reserves and 870 billion cubic feet of gas.

“Once the logs are evaluated, a decision will be made as to whether to initiate a suitable testing program at this depth or to continue drilling,” said a Bounty statement. Its partners in this well are UK-based company Aminex Plc and the Romanian National Oil company Petrom.

Bounty has started seismic survey off Australia’s North South Wales coast on Jan 21, with drilling scheduled for the third quarter. If successful, the programme could help meet Sydney’s gas consumption needs for the next decade, said Bounty.

The Fugro-Geoteam AS vessel, “Polar Duke”, will undertake the 1,500km 2D seismic program up to 50km off the coast of Newcastle over the next two weeks.

Bounty managing director Tom Fontaine said the results of the survey would be used to select the most prospective drilling location in the company’s 8,267 sq km PEP-11 permit, for its upcoming “Biggus-1” exploration well.

“Bounty will be the first company ever to drill in the area Ð we are pioneering energy exploration in this offshore permit,” said Mr Fontaine said.

“This research, combined with the fact that onshore Sydney Basin wells have flowed gas and encountered oil shows, indicates the structure we’re targeting may hold up to 1.2 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of recoverable gas.

“A reserve of this size would provide sufficient gas to meet Sydney’s entire energy supply, at its current consumption rate, for at least the next 10 years. The work we’re preparing to do is of vital importance to the state, its industry and its energy consumers.”

In New Zealand, Bounty will acquire 2,000 kms of 2D seismic in a permit off the coast of New Zealand’s South Island this quarter. Drilling is planned to begin by early 2005 together with UK’s Electra Silica Plc.

The joint venture agreement free carries Bounty and its partners through the seismic and gives Electro Silica an option to drill an exploration well.

“The area is highly prospective with probable recoverable gas reserves estimates of 2.2 trillion cubic feet (tcf).

Mr Fontaine said: “We have already received an Expression of Interest in the sale of any gas discovered. New Zealand also has experienced considerable problems recently in meeting its energy needs and a local discovery would be a boon to both its economy and its consumers.”

Bounty’s partners in this project are Electro Silica Plc, Hardman Resources Limited and Albatross Energy.

In the third quarter, Bounty will drill at least one and up to three wells in its
WA-325-P and WA-327-P permits in the Perth Basin. The joint venture has recently completed the acquisition of 820 kms of 2D seismic data in its WA-325-P permit and 660 kms2 of 3D seismic in permits in both areas.

Its partners include Apache Northwest Pty Ltd, Roc Oil (WA) Pty Ltd and Voyager Energy Limited.