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The Houston-based global exploration and production company ConocoPhillips (COP - Analyst Report) hit gas at the Proteus-1 exploration well in Permit WA-398-P in the Browse Basin.

Located 218 miles (350 kilometers) offshore north-western Australia coast, the 4.125 inch hole section of the well, was drilled from the 5 inch liner shoe at 14,075 feet (4,920 meters) below rotary table (RT) to a total depth of 17,224 feet (5,250 meters) RT. The well reached a total depth of 17,224 feet (5,250 meters).

Currently, wireline logging operations are ongoing and are near completion. The joint venture intends to carry out a production test in the coming weeks.

Movable hydrocarbons present in good quality Jurassic reservoir units are backed by petrophysical log interpretation, formation pressure gradients and gas samples recovered at the surface.

The success in Proteus - 1 well follows the major gas discoveries in the Boreas -1, Kronos -1 and Zephryos 1 wells drilled earlier in the current drilling campaign. ConocoPhillips, the operator, of the exploration program, used mid-water semisubmersible rig Transocean Legend, to drill the Proteus-1 well. The company plans to utilize the same rig for the entire campaign, likely to continue through 2013.

ConocoPhillips is the operator of the WA - 314 - P, WA - 315 - P and WA - 398 - P Browse Basin permits.  The Greater Poseidon gas discoveries announced earlier cover these permit areas. ConocoPhillips holds a 60% stake in permit WA - 315 - P and WA - 398 - P, while Karoon Gas Australia holds the remaining 40%. A 90% interest in permit WA - 314 - P is held by Karoon Gas Australia.

During the second phase of the Browse drilling campaign, at least six wells are targeted to be drilled. The primary goal of the exploration program is to ascertain the size and quality of the hydrocarbon accumulations within the exploration permits which contain the greater Poseidon trend.

ConocoPhillips carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). However, other Zacks Ranked #1 (Strong Buy) stocks – Range Resources Corp. (RRC - Analyst Report), China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (SNP - Analyst Report) and Dril-Quip, Inc. (DRQ - Analyst Report) – appear more attractive for the short term.

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