September 16, 2009 / 11:47 AM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 3-Anadarko, Repsol, Tullow in Sierra Leone oil find

* Venus find may hold 200 mln barrels

* System could cross 4 countries

* Over 30 other prospects to drill

* Repsol, Woodside and Tullow have stakes

* Anadarko up 10.3 percent; Tullow up 9.2 pct (Adds analyst comment, details on ownership, updates shares)

By Tom Bergin

LONDON, Sept 16 (Reuters) - A consortium led by Anadarko Petroleum Corp (APC.N) has made a find off the coast of Sierra Leone that potentially opens up a multibillion-barrel oil frontier in West Africa.

The Venus B well confirmed the existence of an active petroleum system offshore Sierra Leone, raising hopes for more than 30 other Anadarko prospects in that part of West Africa, the Houston-based explorer said in a statement on Wednesday.

Shares of Anadarko jumped more than 10 percent, while partner Tullow Oil Plc (TLW.L) rose more than 9 percent.

“Venus could contain around 200 million barrels of oil, making it a very significant discovery,” said Bernstein analyst Ben Dell. He used the Jubilee field in Ghana, which has analogous geology, as a guide.

Anadarko holds 40 percent of Venus, while Spain’s Repsol YPF (REP.MC) and Australia’s Woodside Petroleum Ltd (WPL.AX) each hold 25 percent and British-based Tullow holds the rest.

The consortium believes the field could be one of a string of reservoirs that stretches 1,100 kilometers (680 miles) from Ghana to Sierra Leone, across the Ivory Coast and Liberia.

Bob Daniels, Anadarko’s senior vice president for worldwide exploration, told analysts and reporters on a call that the find would spark more activity in the basin.

And Evolution Securities analyst Richard Griffith said Venus B’s success would “bring into play a whole series of prospects that could mirror Jubilee in size.”

The Jubilee field in Ghana has a resource potential of up to 1.8 billion barrels, according to Tullow, Europe’s largest independent oil explorer by market value.

“There should be no doubt about the potential of the west coast,” said Thomas Manu, director of exploration and production at Ghana National Petroleum Corp. “Of course, the reported Sierra Leone offshore find goes to prove that.”

Anadarko said it would start drilling offshore the Ivory Coast once it finished at the Venus B site, where it drilled to 18,500 feet (5,600 meters) in 5,900 feet of water.

Analysts at Houston-based energy investment bank Tudor Pickering Holt described the deepwater Venus well as “encouraging” and as a bookend to match Jubilee to the east, predicting the group would drill up to five more wells outside Ghana next year.

This would depend on rig availability, with deepwater rigs in demand globally due to activity off Brazil and elsewhere.

Anadarko’s New York-listed shares were up 10.3 percent at $65.29 in afternoon trading. Tullow jumped 9.2 percent to close at 1,187 pence, while Repsol rose 1.9 percent to 18.57 euros and Woodside climbed 4.8 percent to A$50.82. (Reporting by Tom Bergin, with additional reporting by Kwasi Kpodo in Accra, Matt Daily in New York, and Braden Reddall in San Francisco; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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