This story was originally published in The West Australian on 18 November 2017 with the headline "Finder seeks drill-plan backer." © Peter Milne.
Private Perth-based oil and gas explorer Finder Exploration is chasing about $200 million of private equity investment to fund a five-well WA offshore drilling program due to start late next year.
If the $US150 million ($198 million) is raised, Finder will be split into an offshore business with new equity investors and an onshore business with current ownership.
Finder is led by chief executive Shane Westlake. Damon Neaves, who joined Finder in May after six years as chief executive of ASX-listed African oil and gas explorer Pura Vida Energy, will head up the new offshore company.
“It will be a big program, it’s exciting,” Mr Neaves said.
He said the current preference was to keep the company private, but a future float had been considered.
Finder plans to mobilise a jack-up rig to drill the Eagle gas prospect west of Onslow in the third quarter of next year.
Mr Neaves said Eagle was attractive as it sat in shallow water close to shore and is traversed by the existing pipeline to BHP’s Macedon domestic gas plant. He hopes to start production by 2024 to capitalise on a shortfall in gas supply for WA that Finder predicts for early next decade.
Finder intends to start drilling four oil prospects in early 2019 — Kanga and Gretzky in the Carnarvon Basin and Gem and Alpha in the Browse Basin — with a more expensive semi-submersible rig suitable for deeper water. If drilling is successful floating production facilities would produce the oil.
Unusually, in an industry dominated by joint ventures to share the risk, all five prospects are fully owned and operated by Finder.