Not a retiring type, Jim goes exploring

Sep 26, 2005 02:00 AM

by Ian Gerard

Jim Axford is not your average 70-year-old.
While many people his age linger over the crossword until lunch and then tend to the garden, the Queenslander operates an oil well and is part of a new exploration boom taking place in Queensland's southeast.

Prompted by rising world oil prices, exploration companies have rushed into the resource-rich Surat Basin for a piece of Australia's biggest untapped shale oil, gas and coal reserves. While it has always been a relatively unexplored resource, there are more than 70 companies drilling for oil in the basin, which extends from Roma in central southern Queensland to northern NSW.
Exploration, which in past years was not considered economically viable, is now big business, thanks to high world oil prices. International supply is short and there are a number of Australian companies lining up to tap into domestic reserves.

This is where Mr Axford comes in -- he runs an oil rig at an Oilex well near his property outside Roma. The Perth-based oil company's managing director, Bruce McCarthy, said he hoped to extract 10-12 mm barrels of oil from three wells opening soon near Roma.
"The high price of oil makes the small finds really worth going for," he said.
Mr McCarthy said that while there was a fair element of risk involved in exploring for oil in Queensland, he was confident the wells would turn a profit.

Mosaic Oil chief executive Lan Nguyen said higher oil prices had led to his company reactivating an oil well that had been shut down since 2002. He said recent technological developments had also helped to make wells profitable.
"In the past, some of the oil wells producing less than five to 10 barrels of oil were not commercial and were suspended, but in the past few months we have gone back to those wells and reactivated them and put them back into production," he said.

Source: The Australian
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