Apache Makes Aussie Gas Find

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Apache, the largest U.S. independent oil and natural gas producer, said today that it made a natural gas discovery off the coast of Western Australia. Apache's Zola-1 discovery in license WA-290-P, offshore Western Australia, logged 410 feet of net pay in three Triassic Mungaroo sands over a depth range of 13,450-15,100 feet below sea level, the company said in a statement.

Texas-based Apache (APA) is one of the more active non-Australian firms operating in the country. The new discovery is just 16 miles north of the massive Gorgon field, Apache said in the statement. Chevron (CVX), the second-largest U.S. oil company, is the primary operator at the Gorgon field.

A new seismic survey covering the Zola structure is planned later in 2011, according to the Apache statement. The company owns a 30.25% interest in the project, the largest among the five partners. Apache acquired the stake last year and Zola is the first acreage to be drilled in the project.

Royal Dutch Shell (RDS-A), Europe's second-largest oil company, is also among the non-Australian firms with a significant footprint in the country's natural gas business. Apache also does business in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Egypt and Argentina.