InterOil Suspends Drilling at PNG Well on Rig Safety Concerns

InterOil Corp. (IOC), Total SA’s partner in a natural gas venture in Papua New Guinea, said it suspended drilling in a nearby exploration block due to high pressures that can threaten the safety of the rig.

While operations at the Wahoo-1 well have been delayed, InterOil recorded significant levels of methane, ethane, propane and butane, the Singapore-based company said today in an e-mailed statement. Further work is needed before Wahoo can be considered a discovery, InterOil said.

InterOil will resume operations as soon as possible after a review and regulatory approval, it said. InterOil is exploring in blocks surrounding its Elk and Antelope gas discoveries with Paris-based Total. Drilling in those areas began in March as part of a $300 million program.

InterOil and Total (FP) want to use supplies from the Elk and Antelope fields to develop Papua New Guinea’s second liquefied natural gas development. Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM)’s $19 billion LNG project started shipments earlier this year.

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