Assam Company farms in Louisiana and Texas blocks

Vol 9, PW 25 (06 Apr 06) People & Policy

Reliance is not the only private sector Indian company secretly snapping up overseas exploration and production acreage away from the public gaze.

Assam Company, Indias oldest tea firm and a most unlikely candidate to hold the title of overseas equity predator, is fast emerging as an aggressive oil explorer, not just in India, but abroad too. PETROWATCH learns that on 3rd March, company representatives completed the paperwork in Houston to formally establish its presence in two exploration blocks in the US and two in Australia.

Critical to Assam Companys overseas expansion drive is its 50-50 joint venture with Houston-based DMS Exploration, set up in January this year under the name Austin Exploration Ltd. Under the agreements signed on 3rd March, Austin Exploration farms in 35% to the 512-acre Polecat Creek exploration permit in Texas and another 80% to the St Gabriel exploration license in Louisiana - 12 miles south of Baton Rouge. Polecat Creek sits on a fractured limestone reservoir, near the producing Denny Field and is believed to hold in-place reserves of approximately 1.5m barrels of oil and 3bn cubic feet of gas.

Fifteen potential locations have been identified for drilling and the company believes initial production from each well will be between 200 b/d and 400 b/d with 200, 000 cf/d gas. More promising is the discovered St Gabriel Salt Dome prospect at Iberville Parish in Louisiana, which Austin believes sits on 3.7m barrels of in-place oil across two block faults (Fault Block A: 2.07m barrels; Fault Block B: 1.65m barrels) and 27.3bn cubic feet of gas.

Seismic clearly shows 800-ft of structure from two Anadarko wells that cumulatively produced 314,892 barrels of oil and 4.275bn cubic feet of gas from this sand, says Austin. Production to date has been from Miocene sands with porosities of 20% to 30%.

Austin is banking heavily on a 50-sq km 3D survey over the block last year of which only half has been interpreted. More prospects are expected to be generated form this data set, adds Austin.