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This week, Gulf Keystone Petroleum (LON:GKP) released another update from its closely followed exploration campaign in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. The report was positive with the company revealing that the Shaikan-6 well encountered oil at the deepest point in the field so far, below the depth originally prognosed as the Jurassic oil/water contact level.
Meanwhile Shaikan 5 has also encountered oil in a number of intervals. And the findings so far are consistent with the results in the Shaikan-4 well, as well as other wells in the field, GKP said.
This update comes after the recent Shaikan 4 well result, which was described as the best so far on Shaikan.
"In addition to the outstanding 24,000 bopd results achieved with the Shaikan-4 appraisal well, Shaikan-6 has cored oil 150 metres below what we previously assumed to be Jurassic oil/water contact level for Shaikan," said chief operating officer John Gerstenlauer.
"Both Shaikan-5 and Shaikan-6 continue to appraise this massive structure down the flanks and we plan to test and evaluate its deeper oil potential."
Sefton Resources (LON:SER), which is focused on the US, was among the top performers in the oil and gas sector this week. Shares in the company jumped nearly 20 percent on Wednesday morning after the company provided a positive update from its operations in the US.
The oil and gas group said the pipeline system in Kansas is on schedule to flow first gas in summer, which should lead to an increase in reserves and generate additional cash flow.
Sefton also told investors that it has identified 40-50 oil and gas wellbores for the LAGGS recompletion programme, which is set to begin once the pipeline is able to move gas.
Once it can be demonstrated that gas can get to market some contingent resources and possible reserves are expected to move to the proved reserve category.
"Activating the Leavenworth County pipelines (LAGGS and Vanguard) will generate an additional stream of cash flow and increase reserves," said chairman of Sefton Jim Ellerton.
"The recompletion program will see oil, gas and coal bed methane (CBM) wells brought back into production and the leasing program is being accelerated with the plan to double our acreage in Kansas."
Other notable risers included Max Petroleum (LON:MXP) and Wentworth Resources (LON:WRL).
Max unveiled positive production numbers, reporting that in the year to March 31, total production averaged 2,807 barrels of oil per day - a 33 per cent increase compared to 2,118 bopd in the previous 12 months.
In the six months to the end of March, the firm saw a 54 per cent increase in average production to 3,250 bopd compared to the half year to March 2011.
President and chief financial officer Michael B Young said: "The production ramp up that began in the summer of 2011 has continued despite the poor weather this winter in Kazakhstan.
"We have gone from one to six fields on production in less than a year and expect to increase production from our existing discoveries at a compounded growth rate in excess of 50 per cent per year for at least the next two years.
"This production materially impacts the bottom line for the company, and supports our pre-salt and post-salt exploration programmes."
Peer Wentworth told investors that the gas shows encountered in the Ziwani-1 exploration well have been confirmed as a new discovery.
A 3 metre gas bearing zone has been identified, at a depth of 1,106 to 1,109 metres, and testing is underway to evaluate this find. Wentworth adds that this is a new reservoir interval that has not previously been encountered in the Mnazi Bay block.
It is a clean Pliocene age reservoir that exhibited strong gas shows during drilling, Wentworth said. Analysis of wireline logs indicates a pay zone with 17 per cent porosity and 78 per cent hydrocarbon saturation, it added.
Ziwani-1 will now undergo a drill stem test so that potential gas flow rates can be assessed.
"There can be no assurance that any flow rate achieved will prove to be commercial but the information acquired is expected to be valuable in respect of knowledge of the basin for further exploration," said Wentworth.
Other new sin the sector included operational reports from North Sea explorers Valiant Petroleum (LON:VPP) and Trapoil (LON:TRAP).
Trapoil said a second well will be required to assess the Orchid prospect's potential and the joint venture partners will consider the option.
On Thursday, it was was revealed that the Orchid exploration well encountered oil in its primary target, however the secondary target was not found in this well.
Initial logging over the Chalk interval confirmed at least 50 feet of net oil pay, with average porosities of 30 per cent and average oil saturation of 47 per cent, Trap said.
However further logs were unable to provide conclusive information about the quality of the pay zone. Venture partner Valiant, which has a 30 per cent stake, said the interpretation of the primary zone suggests low average oil saturations.
Trapoil meanwhile says there are "significant differences in materiality thresholds" among partners in the joint venture, and following due consultation the well has now being plugged and abandoned.
Trapoil says its own analysis suggests the well had penetrated 64 feet of gross oil pay above a 235 foot transition zone.
"Trapoil estimates that based on the current available data there are in place unaudited volumes of approximately 40mmbbls which should potentially provide a commercial reserve. However, a second wellbore will be required to provide conclusive evidence of such potential," the company said.
"The partnership group will now consider their options for potential future additional drilling activities," it said.
A day later, Valiant said it expects an exploration well on the Timon prospect to spud in the next few days. This will be the latest in a series of wells in the North Sea.
It is currently one of the most active areas for exploration and appraisal drilling.
And a recent pick up in M&A deals and an improving tax environment is helping revitalise investor interest.
That said well results have been something of a mixed bag in the year so far.
The Timon well is targeting an Upper Jurassic channelised sand play, estimated to have 30 million barrels of prospective resources. And it is believed to be similar to the Cladhan and Tybalt discoveries in the North Sea.
Valiant has a 10 per cent stake in the Timon venture. The project is operated by MPX North Sea which owns a 15 per cent stake.
Meanwhile the other partners include 25 per cent stakeholder Agora Oil & Gas - which is being acquired by Cairn Energy (LON:CNE) - and Abu Dhabi oil firm Taqa owns 18 per cent, while Wintershall and Sorgenia own 17 and 15 per cent respectively.
On the same day, US Oil & Gas (USOP) said it has completed the mobilization of equipment in preparation for drilling its first exploration well, Eblana -1, at its Hot Creek Valley project in Nevada. Drilling is scheduled to start on Saturday, May 5.
It is planning to drill a second well immediately after Eblana-1. It secured a drilling permit for Eblana-2 last month.
The company's main asset is in Nye County, Nevada, where it holds the entire share capital of US-based company Major Oil International LLC.
Major Oil has acquired rights to exploration and development acreage in Hot Creek Valley, adjacent to the oil and gas rich Railroad Valley area of Nevada.
US Oil has completed extensive surveys of its Hot Creek lease area.
In other news in the sector, Leni Gas & Oil (LON:LGO) said it expecteds to complete a deal to sell its Spanish assets by the end of this month.
The company's statement comes as it selected a "preferred bidder" and granted it exclusivity to complete definitive documentation. This exclusivity period runs until May 31.
Leni told investors that due diligence is now well advanced. And it added that preliminary talks have been held about the deal structure.
The company had been seeking a partner for the Spanish assets but as its Trinidad portfolio has become increasingly attractive, and it added new opportunities there, Leni decided that a full divestment would potentially represent the best outcome.
"Following the board's decision to divest the Spanish assets to the highest bidder we have now reached a point where we are more confident that a sale can be concluded on mutually advantageous terms and have therefore granted the bidder exclusivity in return for a cash deposit," said chief executive Neil Ritson.
Cove Energy (LON:COV), which received a £1.12 billion takeover offer from Royal Dutch Shell (LON:RDSB) late last month, this week reported positive test results from the Barquentine-1 well in the Rovuma Basin Area 1 block offshore Mozambique, again highlighting the exploration potential of East Africa.
The well flowed at 100 million cubic feet per day (mmcfpd) during a second test. The results, said Cove, support potential flow rates of up to 200 mmcfpd and confirm requirement for fewer development wells than originally planned.
Cove noted that the flow tests are an important component in the reserve classification process as the partnership focuses on achieving a final investment decision (FID) around the end of 2013.
"I am very pleased to announce the continued value being added to the Prosperidade gas complex with the second successful gas flow test from the Barquentine-1 well in Area 1 Rovuma Offshore, re-iterating the high quality gas reservoirs from this discovery," said chief executive of Cove John Craven.
"We look forward to continuing success from the Prosperidade gas complex."