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Petroceltic hires Dalma Energy for 4-well appraisal programme on Isarene permit in Algeria

Petroceltic International (LON:PCI) has hired a Dubai-based drilling contractor Dalma Energy for a four-hole appraisal programme on the Isarene permit, Algeria. The company believes that the Ain Tsila gas discovery, which is hosted on Isarene, “may turn out to be a world class hydrocarbon resource”.

The rig is currently stacked in Hassi Messaoud, in south-east Algeria, and it is being mobilised immediately. The rig is expected to arrive on location in time to start drilling on schedule in October 2010, and the drilling and testing programme is expected to last between six and seven months.

The drilling programme follows up the successful five-well programme in 2009/2010, which discovered the Ain Tsila gas discoveries which demonstrated an “extensive and probably continuous gas accumulation”, capable of flowing at over 30mmscf/d (million square cubic feet per day), following fracture stimulation.

"Securing this rig is a significant step towards re-starting drilling operations on the Isarene permit. We expect to drill a minimum of four appraisal wells including at least one horizontal well”, Petroceltic chief executive Brian O'Cathain commented.

“Our interpretation and analysis of the results from the five well programme in 2009/10 is progressing, supporting our belief that the Ain Tsila gas condensate discovery, on the Isarene permit, may turn out to be a world class hydrocarbon resource,” O'Cathain added.

At the end of the appraisal programme, Petroceltic intends to submit a Final Discovery Report / development plan to the Algerian Authorities. The programme is fully funded following April’s US$120m fundraising.

Isarene is being developed through a joint venture with and the Algerian oil & gas company Sonatrach. With a 75% working interest and 100% of the paying interest, Petroceltic is the primary stakeholder and operator of the permit. Sonatrach owns the remaining 25%.

The Isarene permit was a major focus of activity for Petroceltic in 2009, the drilling campaign began in May 2009. Drilling was focused on the appraisal of gas and oil discoveries, which had already been made by both Petroceltic and previous operators.

The campaign has focused on the Ain Tsila discovery and the Issaouane North West (INW) structure. In February 2010, the company completed the highly successful five well appraisal drilling programme with four of the five wells drilled successfully testing at commercial gas flow rates - ranging from 4mmscfd (million standard cubic feet per day) to 33mmscfd.

Subsequently, Petroceltic‘s Ain Tsila Ridge discovery was rated as the tenth largest in the world and the largest in Africa so far by HIS Petroconsultants.