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CSIRO helps find oil in PNG ’Moose’


A team of ten CSIRO researchers has helped Canadian oil company InterOil find exciting new oil shows in Papua New Guinea.

CSIRO's Tony Allan with PNG field team during recent geological research in the Purari River region

A panoramic view from the Moose-1 well towards the Purari River and Papuan foothills

This early success follows from a vigorous exploration program, conducted in an ongoing research partnership with CSIRO’s Petroleum Division. The CSIRO studies have been critical to this result, consolidating evidence for a new petroleum system in InterOil’s exploration Licenses.

In late July InterOil announced finding fourteen oil shows through 135 meters (443 feet) of cored Tertiary limestones in the Moose-1 ST1 well, located 350km northwest of Port Moresby, in the Gulf Province of Papua New Guinea. The company plans to undertake additional testing, production and development drilling to determine the structure’s resource potential. Commercial confirmation would result in the first significant hydrocarbon discovery in the area in 44 years.

Recognising the geological and geochemical complexity of the PNG province, the company sought to capitalise on CSIRO’s specialist technologies and expertise in the Papuan Basin. InterOil’s General Manager of Exploration and Production, Andy Carroll says: "CSIRO has provided us with key technical expertise across several functions."

For example, the application of high resolution strontium isotopic age dating to limestones and other marine fossils allows CSIRO and InterOil geoscientists to build an accurate ’stratigraphic yardstick’. This will permit accurate prediction of subsurface structure ’ahead of the bit’ during the forthcoming multi-well drilling program.

The accurate limestone ages are also used to construct basin models that assist with the prediction of subsurface reservoir distribution through InterOil’s exploration area. In addition, CSIRO is independently evaluating reservoir data like porosity and permeability, and geochemically typing hydrocarbons. InterOil is using these data in estimating potential predrill reservoir sizes and hydrocarbon volumetrics.

CSIRO researchers have been studying InterOil’s prospects, covering the area northwest from Port Moresby into the Papuan foothills and highlands north of the Gulf of Papua, examining reservoir quality and sedimentology, organic geochemistry and petrology, geochronology and regional basin history. The work has included detailed laboratory analysis and field studies.

CSIRO Project Coordinator, Tony Allan says the project is of great scientific interest.

"This work builds on 10 years of CSIRO research in Papua New Guinea," he says. "It is providing unique insights into petroleum system evolution throughout the Papuan Basin, with a direct impact on models driving current exploration in this region.

"Our InterOil work is also relevant to petroleum systems analysis across the northwest Australian margin, and to the continuing development of CSIRO exploration and appraisal technologies."

The new chief of the Division, Professor Beverley Ronalds, is encouraging the future development of the CSIRO-InterOil science alliance. "CSIRO’s role in exploration-related research is not only about developing new technologies but ensuring they are applied and are making a difference in the industry. I am delighted that our research partnership with InterOil is delivering on both" Professor Ronalds

Mr Nick Goldie | CSIRO
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