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ConocoPhillips Resumes Natural Gas Drilling Off Australia

By Ross Kelly SYDNEY--A natural gas exploration and appraisal campaign offshore northern Australia led by ConocoPhillips (COP) is back on track after technical problems with well safety equipment were addressed, partner Karoon Gas Australia Ltd. (KAR.AU) said Friday. Drilling of the Boreas-1 well was held up after its blowout preventer malfunctioned. Blowout preventers sit on the ocean floor and are designed to control oil and gas wells and prevent leaks. Their integrity has come under greater scrutiny following the Montara oil spill offshore northern Australia and the much larger Macondo spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Blowout preventer "troubleshooting and function testing was completed satisfactorily" and the Boreas-1 well's casing was successfully pressure tested, Karoon said in a statement. The pair are attempting to prove up enough gas to support a possible expansion of the Darwin gas-export plant, or construction of a new standalone export facility. At 0243 GMT, Karoon shares were up 4.5% at A$4.41. -By Ross Kelly, Dow Jones Newswires; 61-2-8272-4692; Subscribe to WSJ:

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