South Pacific Resources is preparing to explore for shale oil and gas in Papua New Guinea (PNG), where it is applying for five unconventional petroleum licences covering 75,000 square km.
PNG is preparing to open up shale exploration after enacting the Unconventional Hydrocarbons Act in February. The act replaced the previous Oil and Gas Act of 1998, which had excluded the possibility of unconventional exploration and development.
“Current analysis has concluded that the unconventional oil and gas reserves may be significantly greater in magnitude than the country’s known conventional oil and gas reserves,” South Pacific said in a statement.
South Pacific said that its five licence applications would “be reviewed and considered as a priority” by the PNG government, with the blocks already reserved for the company on a preliminary basis. It noted the “close relationship” the company had developed with
PNG Petroleum and Energy Minister Ben Micah, former ministers Nixon Duban and William Duma, and the PNG Department of Petroleum and Energy, as they collaborated to assess the country’s shale gas potential. South Pacific said Micah had reserved the licences for five years, “to ensure certainty of the application areas while the licence applications are processed by the department without fear of competition, while also allowing for ongoing exploration and early drilling to be undertaken”.
South Pacific said the applications covered a number of shale prospects. These include the shale plays surrounding the producing Foldbelt oil and gas fields. The applications also cover the shale plays surrounding the Hides, Juha and P’Nyang gas fields that supply the PNG LNG project, as well as the “highly prospective shales” surrounding the Elk/Antelope/Triceratops gas discoveries that comprise the proposed Papua LNG project. The areas surrounding the proposed Stanley LNG Project in Western Province and a large area of the Foreland containing a number of stranded unconventional oil and gas fields are also covered.
South Pacific currently operates and holds a 100% working interest in five conventional petroleum exploration licences in PNG that cover 11,972 square km across onshore and offshore areas.