By Ross Verne

APACHE will not farm-into MEO’s AC/P50 and AC/P51 exploration permits off the north west coast, saying the prospect did not meet the company’s technical criteria.

MEO chief executive Jürgen Hendrich said seeing the option lapse was “clearly disappointing” but the company would continue to remain receptive to third party offers in the period leading up to permit renewal in April 2015.

Apache had until 30 September to acquire a 70 per cent interest in the fields after signing an option agreement in June, with spokesman David Parker describing the expenditure on the option as “minor”.

MEO executive manager of business development Robert Zammit said the company was continuing its efforts to find new third-party partners for the projects.

“Farm-ins usually take some time, particularly in the current environment when a number of companies are cutting back on their exploration expenditure,” Mr Zammit said.

When asked whether the company would extend their option on the fields after the expiry of their current permits in April 2015, Mr Zammit said MEO had identified prospectivity in AC/P50 and AC/P51 that was worthy of further investigation.

MEO has spent $9.2 million in its efforts to develop the permits, with Zeppelin 2D and 3D surveys accounting for the majority of spending.

Mr Zammit said efforts to farm-in third parties for its adjacent, wholly-owned AC/P53 field were ongoing, though no drillable prospect had yet been identified.