InterOil Suspends Drilling at PNG Well on Rig Safety Concerns

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

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