APACHE Corporation will become operator of the WA 482 P exploration permit in the Carnarvon basin after acquiring a 50 per cent stake in the field from Karoon Gas Australia.

Apache will fund 90% of the drilling costs, capped at US$63 million, for one exploration well to be drilled in the permit in the first half of the 2015 calendar year as part of the deal.

It will also pay Karoon US$9.04 million to reimburse the costs of its seismic acquisition over the permit – a condition of the company’s acquisition of the permit from US independent Liberty Petroleum Corporation in 2012.

Karoon has licensed and reprocessed existing 435,500 hectares of 3D seismic data and 725,100 hectares of 2D seismic data, as well as acquiring 238,600 hectares of new 3D seismic survey data in the 1.4 million hectare permit.

The permit is located 280 kilometres north of Karratha, north Western Australia, in water depths ranging between 400 metres in the south-eastern part of the block to 2,000 metres in the north- west.

Karoon said it had identified and mapped 14 prospective prospects and leads based on the existing and new seismic data.

Karoon chairman Robert Hosking said he was pleased to welcome Apache as a joint venture partner.

“The transaction is a significant milestone for Karoon and a further endorsement on Karoon’s ability to identify exciting, very large early stage exploration opportunities,” he said.