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Oil Search Plans Drilling to Study Size of Kurdistan Oil Find

Oil Search Ltd., Papua New Guinea’s largest energy producer, will drill four wells at its oil discovery in Iraq’s Kurdistan region and aims to determine the size of the resource by the end of 2015.

“We’ve got a good asset in Kurdistan,” Managing Director Peter Botten said today in Perth, where he’s attending an industry conference. “We’re appraising it now. It will be toward the end of next year when we understand the resource base. Then we’ll decide where we go with it, what we do.”

Oil Search is moving ahead with drilling at its Taza oil project in Kurdistan, a semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq where the economy has boomed with oil exploration since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. The company is also Exxon Mobil Corp.’s partner in a $19 billion liquefied natural gas project in Papua New Guinea scheduled to start this year.

The company expects two or three more LNG production units to be built in Papua New Guinea with the development of InterOil Corp.’s Elk and Antelope discoveries, Botten said.

Oil Search is contesting Total SA’s agreement last month to acquire a stake in InterOil’s Elk and Antelope fields, the company has said. Oil Search agreed earlier this year to buy a stake in the same discoveries for an initial $900 million.

Botten declined to comment on the InterOil dispute, saying only that the company wants a “capital-efficient, timely development” of the gas resources in the country.

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