--> ABSTRACT: Exploration and Production in Papua New Guinea, by Keiran Wulff and David Hobson; #91019 (1996)

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Exploration and Production in Papua New Guinea

Keiran Wulff and David Hobson

The prospectivity of the Papuan Basin has been appreciated, since oil seeps were first discovered in 1911. Initially, the mountainous terrain, a deeply karstified limestone surface covered with tropical rainforest, fed by 300 inches of rain each year, restricted access to the adventurous. Early exploration was focussed along the coastline and river systems, with only limited success.

The development of helicopter transportable rigs during the 1970s was the technological advance that led to success, as the crests of anticlines became accessible to the drill. Even so, the lack of seismic due to severe terrain conditions and structural complexity, still constrains our ability to image trap. Despite these limitations, the oil discovery at lagifu-2 in 1986, led to the development of the Kutubu Field by a Chevron led joint venture, with first oil in 1992. The Kutubu Field was developed at a cost of US$ 1 billion. Reserves are in excess of 250 mmbo with production currently at 100,000 bopd.

PNG's second oil development will be the Gobe/SE Gobe Fields, also in the Papuan Thrust Belt, and thought to contain around 100 mmbo. Discovered in the late 1980s, the field is expected to produce 25,000 bopd from 1997.

Significant volumes of gas have been discovered in the Highlands at Hides, where 3 wells have now confirmed a gas column in excess of 1 km. Additional large gas discoveries have been made in the Papuan Basin, highlighting the potential for PNG to become a long term LNGs producer.

AAPG Search and Discover Article #91019©1996 AAPG Convention and Exhibition 19-22 May 1996, San Diego, California