Australia Could Become an Oil Giant After Apache Discovery of Field With Potential of 300 Million Barrels of Black Gold

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By Vittorio Hernandez | August 19, 2014 8:44 AM EST

An oil pump jack pumps oil in a field near Calgary, Alberta, July 21, 2014. Pump jacks are used to pump crude oil out of the ground after an oil well has been drilled. REUTERS/Todd Korol (CANADA - Tags: BUSINESS ENERGY ENVIRONMENT)
An oil pump jack pumps oil in a field near Calgary, Alberta, July 21, 2014. Pump jacks are used to pump crude oil out of the ground after an oil well has been drilled. REUTERS/Todd Korol (CANADA - Tags: BUSINESS ENERGY ENVIRONMENT)

As it is, Australia looms to become the biggest export of liquefied natural gas by 2017. On Monday, American oil firm Apache announced that it has discovered an oil field in Australia that is potentially the biggest discovery in the last 30 years.

The field discovered by the Phoenix South-1 well in the offshore Canning Basin, which initially targeted gas, has the potential to contain up to 300 million barrels of oil. It is located 180 kilometres north of Port Hedland.

Analysts, however, have warned that only a portion of that black gold could be recoverable. Simon Andrew, energy analyst of Hartleys, a broker based in Perth, told The Wall Street Journal that it could take two to three months to work out the actual recoverable volume from the discovery.

Despite the warning, news of the potential oil field caused shares of Apache's junior partner, Carnarvon Petroleum, to triple to 24 cents on Monday. As a result, market value of the firm surged to $157 million.

Thomas Voytovich, chief operating officer of Apache's international business, said while results of the drilling indicated commercial discovery, he said if further appraisal dealing confirms the find, it may represent a new oil province for Australia.

He said Apache will conduct drilling on a second well in 2015 to target Roc, which is a larger prospect.

The oil sample is high-grade light quality which is easier to produce and brings in premium prices.

The discovery is timely since Australia needs new sources of oil since its reserves from current fields are fast diminishing, causing the country's oil production in 2013 to plummet by 17 per cent to 416,000 barrels a day. It was the lowest level since 1972.

Previous speculations say that Australia may have even more oil than Saudi Arabia, according to the following report.

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(Photo: Reuters / Todd Korol )
An oil pump jack pumps oil in a field near Calgary, Alberta, July 21, 2014. Pump jacks are used to pump crude oil out of the ground after an oil well has been drilled.
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