Gulfsands suspends Abu Ghazal-1 exploration well in Block 26 after encountering heavy oil

Gulfsands Petroleum plc, the oil and gas production, exploration and development company with activities in Syria, Iraq, Tunisia, Italy and the U.S.A., provides this update on operations in Syria.

Drilling and testing operations have recently been completed on the Abu Ghazal-1 (“AGZ-1”) exploration well.

Potentially significant hydrocarbon columns were encountered within the Triassic aged Butmah and Kurrachine formations. However, a series of drill-stem tests (“DST”) undertaken on the well resulted in the recovery of sub-commercial quantities of heavy/viscous oil. The well has now been suspended pending detailed analyses of well results.

The AGZ-1 well commenced drilling operations on 23 January 2011, utilising the Crosco E-401 drilling rig and was drilled to a depth of 3850 metres Measured Depth (“m MD”). The well was planned to evaluate potential reservoirs within the Cretaceous aged Massive and Triassic aged Butmah and Kurrachine Dolomite formations within a large, fault bound structure identified and mapped on 3D seismic data.

The well encountered the Massive Formation at a depth of approximately 2572m MD, but in spite of elevated gas readings observed whilst drilling, the section drilled at this location was found to contain relatively poor reservoir properties and drill cuttings indicated only traces of oxidized oil and asphalt.

The Triassic Butmah Formation was encountered at 3287m MD with elevated gas readings and traces of oil in the mud system. Interpretation of wireline logs indicated a significant oil column; however no formation fluids were recovered when testing. The lack of any fluid flow from the formation is currently interpreted to be due to low permeability within the reservoir.

The well encountered the top of the Triassic Kurrachine formations at 3456m MD. Substantially elevated gas readings were encountered whilst drilling through this section and live oil was recovered in coring operations. Interpretation of wireline logs indicated a significant oil column, with subsequent testing resulting in sub-commercial volumes of very heavy to heavy oil (approximately 12 degree API) being recovered along with highly saline formation water.

The Crosco E-401 rig will now be moved to the Khurbet East No. 19 (“KHE-19”) well location on the northwest flank of the Khurbet East field. This well is planned as a further step-out from the successful KHE-18 delineation in the northwest, which encountered high quality karst reservoir in the Massive formation. The KHE-19 well will evaluate an area estimated to contain oil-in-place of approximately 30 MMstb and if the well is successful there will exist an opportunity for possible (3P) Khurbet East reserves to be matured to probable and proven reserves categories at year end 2011.

Gulfsands drilling operations in Syria Block 26, using the Crosco E-401 and E-501 drilling rigs, are continuing as planned and have continued without interruption during recent months.

Ric Malcolm, Gulfsands CEO, said

“Whilst we are pleased to have encountered significant oil columns within the Abu Ghazal well, the production test results have been disappointing. We will now analyse all of the data prior to determining the extent of any further operations at this location. The rig will now move on to drilling the KHE-19 well as we continue with our very busy 2011 program of drilling exploration prospects and development wells.”


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