Several deals are in the news in the U.K. portion of the central North Sea, as prospective acreage moves into the hands of willing operators. Apache Corp. has agreed to farm into a large chunk of acreage held by Shell. The Houston-based independent has committed to drill up to four exploratory wells near Nelson and Forties fields. Apache will drill three exploration wells on blocks 22/6a, 22/7 and 22/12. A fourth well, contingent on results of the first exploration round, may be drilled on Block 22/11. Interests in the blocks vary: Block 22/6a is held 50/50 by Shell and ExxonMobil, and Block 22/7 is held by Shell and partners, including BP. One of the wells has already been drilled by Shell in Block 22/12a, but results have not been announced. Apache expects to start drilling the second and third exploration wells shortly. In separate activity, Veritas DGC has farmed out its promote license for Block 16/21d to Oklahoma City-based Kerr-McGee Corp. The license is adjacent to Balmoral and Dumbarton fields, and contains the abandoned Bladon Field. Veritas reports that long-offset 3-D seismic data has identified some significant potential on the block. Kerr-McGee will take a 100% interest in the license. -Peggy Williams 1 Canada Calgary-based West Energy Ltd. has made two discoveries in the red-hot Pembina Nisku play. The company flowed 380 bbl. of 41-degree-gravity oil and 850,000 cu. ft. of gas per day from its Violet Grove 14-27-48-08 W5M well. Following that success, its 2-6-48-09 W5M test, which was drilled near Lodgepole, encountered a 12-meter oil column. West holds a 60% interest in the 14-27 well and a 100% interest in the 2-6. The company has 30,000 acres at West Pembina and another 16,000 acres under option, reports Nickle's Petroleum Explorer. 2 Cuba Montreal-based Pebercan Inc. has made a discovery offshore northwest Cuba in Block 7. The Santa Cruz-100 well flowed 1,300 bbl. of 18-degree-gravity oil per day on a 14-millimeter choke. The company is preparing a two-well appraisal program for the structure. Pebercan is also continuing to develop Seboruco Field on Block 7, and currently has two wells under way there. The company holds five concessions covering 6,155 square kilometers in Cuba, including its 55% interest in Block 7. Toronto-based Sherritt International Corp. is a 45% partner in Block 7, which is currently producing 14,000 gross bbl. of oil per day. 3 Brazil ChevronTexaco has made an ultradeepwater discovery in the offshore Campos Basin. The 1-TXC-05-ESS well, which was drilled on the BM-C-5 Block in 2,387 meters of water, has found hydrocarbons. Further details of the find, in the prolific Whale Park area off the southern coast of Espírito Santo state, were not released. ChevronTexaco operates the BM-C-5 block and holds a 68% stake. Repsol YPF owns the remaining 32%. 4 Greenland The governments of Greenland and Denmark are granting an exploration and exploitation license in the Lady Franklin Basin, offshore West Greenland, to EnCana Corp. and Nunaoil. The 2,897-square-kilometer license area lies some 250 kilometers west of Nuuk in 750 to 1,750 meters of water. There has been no drilling in the area to date. Calgary-based EnCana will operate the license and hold an 87.5% interest and Nunaoil will hold the remaining 12.5%. 5 Faeroe Islands Seven groups of licenses were awarded in the second Faeroes licensing round. Statoil was appointed operator of licenses 010 and 011, each containing eight blocks. It also was named majority operator of the 11-block License 009. ChevronTexaco took License 008, a five-block group that is near its Rosebank/Lochnagar discovery made in late 2004 in the Faeroe-Shetland basin. Foroya Kolvetni received a 100% interest in the six-block License 012 and Geysir Petroleum and Atlantic Petroleum were awarded licenses 013 and 014, which cover six and three blocks, respectively. 6 Equatorial Guinea Marathon Oil Corp. has made a gas and condensate discovery on the offshore Alba Block (Sub Area B). The Gardenia discovery well was drilled to a total measured depth of 15,175 ft. in 320 ft. of water approximately 11 miles southwest of Alba Field. It encountered 150 ft. of net pay in the Upper Isongo section. From a 60-ft. interval, the operator tested at the rate of 18.6 million cu. ft. of gas and 1,300 bbl. of condensate per day. Marathon operates the license and holds a 63% interest, Noble Energy Inc. owns 34% and GEPetrol, the national oil company of Equatorial Guinea, holds the remaining 3% interest. 7 Congo El Dorado, Ark.-based Murphy Oil reports that its Azurite Marine #1 exploration well, drilled in the Mer Profonde Sud Block in 4,531 ft. of water, encountered more than 160 ft. of net oil pay in multiple Lower Miocene reservoirs. The company says the structure could contain more than 100 million bbl. of oil. Murphy now plans to drill its Saphir Marine #1 well some 18 kilometers from the discovery. Murphy operates and has an 85% working interest in the 800,000-acre Mer Profonde Sud Block. Societe Nationale Petroles du Congo, the national oil company, holds the remaining 15%. 8 Uganda The first gas discovery in Uganda has been made by Heritage Oil. After experiencing technical difficulties on its previous two wells, the Calgary-based operator finally flowed gas at its Turaco-3 on Block 31. The well was drilled to a total depth of 2,850 meters and encountered 84 meters of net pay. During three drillstem tests, gas flowed at rates between 8- and 12 million cu. ft. per day. Heritage said that the flows were constrained by the surface equipment, and the well should be capable of producing in the range of 60 million cu. ft. per day. 9 Niger Petronas has made an oil discovery in landlocked Niger. The Malaysian company's Jaouro-1 exploration well was drilled in the Agadem Block 1 permit in the Termit Basin, about 1,000 kilometers east of the capital city of Niamey. During a production test, the 2,462-meter well flowed at a maximum rate of 2,540 bbl. of oil per day. Petronas operates the block and holds a 50% stake, and the remainder is held by ExxonMobil. 10 Iraq The Iraqi oil ministry and Woodside Energy Ltd. have signed a two-year memorandum of cooperation that covers oil and gas projects and human-resource development in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. The parties will conduct a six-month study to identify viable projects. In Perth, Australia, Woodside will sponsor the training of several Iraqi ministry personnel, and will also sponsor a number of Iraqi science and engineering students at Curtin University of Technology. 11 Russia A joint study on the development of Shtokman Field in the Barents Sea is being conducted by ConocoPhillips and Gazprom. The partners are evaluating the feasibility of marketing liquefied natural gas from the field. Shtokman, discovered in 1988, is estimated to contain more than 100 trillion cu. ft. of gas. It lies 350 miles off the northwest coast of Russia in the South Barents Sea Basin in water depths of 1,000 ft. 12 Cambodia Oil has been discovered in shallow waters offshore Cambodia by ChevronTexaco. The company drilled four exploratory wells in 6,278-square-kilometer Block A, in the Khmer Basin. The wells encountered oil pay in thicknesses varying from 41 to 139 ft. The Pisnuka #1 reached a total depth of 11,874 ft.; the second well, the Sovann Phum #1 reached 12,232 ft.; the Sirey Sambat #1 went to 11,712 ft.; and, the Pimean Akas #1 reached 11,660 ft. Water depths averaged 240 ft. The company plans one additional exploratory well in the program. ChevronTexaco operates the block and holds a 55% interest, Moeco Cambodia Ltd. holds 30% and LG Caltex Oil Co., 15%. 13 Indonesia Australian firm Santos Ltd. is acquiring a position in the Donggala production-sharing contract in the Kutei Basin, offshore East Kalimantan. Santos will buy the equity interests of Total SA and Inpex, taking its stake in Donggala to 65.45%. The Donggala PSC covers 1,475 square miles and has water depths ranging from 5,414 to 8,038 ft. Other participants in the PSC are Unocal, with 19.55%, and Pertamina, with 15%. 14 New Zealand Tag Oil Ltd., Calgary, is acquiring a 100% interest in two onshore Taranaki Basin exploration permits. The permits, PEP 38757 and PEP 38758, add 19,429 acres to Tag's holdings in the basin. PEP 38757 is between Waihapa Field, a gas and condensate accumulation, and Cheal Field, a recently discovered oil pool. The company has already begun a 3-D seismic program on the permit. Additionally, Tag has entered into a farm-in agreement with Denver-based Bridge Petroleum. Under this deal, Tag will earn a 12.5% interest in a 1,510-acre area of mutual interest (AMI) covering a portion of PEP 38745 and a portion of PEP 38732, both in the Taranaki Basin. Westech Energy is also a partner in the AMI.