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WHL Energy Firms Hold Over La Bella Gas Field, Large Work Program To Unlock Value Planned

WHL Energy (ASX: WHN) has been officially awarded the VIC/P67 permit in the Otway Basin offshore Victoria that holds the La Bella gas field.

The company had committed to a primary work program totalling A$62.1 million in the first 3 years to beat out 6 other bids for VIC/P67, which was released as V11-2, under the Federal Government's 2011 Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release round.

This includes the reprocessing of 1000 kilometres of 2D seismic, acquiring and processing of 811 square kilometres of 3D seismic as well as 650 kilometres of 2D seismic, 2 exploration wells and geotechnical studies.

WHL also has the option for a A$27 million secondary work program that consist of geotechnical studies and 1 exploration well.

VIC/P67 is located close to existing infrastructure including the Santos (ASX: STO) operated Casino gas development, Origin Energy's (ASX:ORG) Otway gas project, the BHP Billiton (ASX: BHP) operated Minerva development and TRU Energy's Iona gas plant.

WHL had previously said the La Bella gas field will allow it book an immediate best estimate (2C) contingent resource of 158 petajoules (149 billion cubic feet) of gas and 1.2 million barrels (MMbbl) of condensate.

Further upside potential exists in the block including the relatively low risk prospects present at Highlander and West La Bella which provide additional tie-back opportunities to a potential La Bella development.

Also winning an offshore Victoria permit was Bass Strait Oil Company (ASX: BAS), which was awarded VIC/P68 (released as V11-5) in the Gippsland Basin after committing to a A$3.5 million work program of geotechnical studies and 225km2 3D seismic survey.

The Department for Resources and Energy awarded 12 permits from the acreage round, securing A$303 million in new investment over 3 years.

The Northern Carnarvon Basin was the centre of the most attention with Woodside Petroleum (ASX: WPL) and BHP Billiton (ASX: BHP) awarded 2 permits each while Hess, Murphy Oil and Finder Exploration were each awarded 1 permit.

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