APACHE Energy has continued moves to boost its Australian asset portfolio, signing a deal with MEO Energy Australasia to acquire a 70 per cent option over two permit areas offshore the Kimberley region.

Apache has an option until 30 September to elect to acquire a 70% interest in, and assume operatorship of, permit areas AC/P50 and AC/P51, located north east of the Crux gas fields.

The option, which would also see Apache carry MEO’s share of costs up to and including the drilling of the first well on each of the permits, would start when they are renewed – expected to be April 2015.

With the fields currently in the final year of a six-year exploration term, the companies would work together to renew the permits for five years should Apache exercise the option.

In that scenario, the companies would initially focus their exploration efforts on the AC/P51 Ramble On oil prospect, which MEO estimates contains 39 million barrels of gross prospective recoverable resources.

MEO and Apache have agreed to propose a firm well in the primary term of any AC/P51 renewal, while a condition exists in the deal for Apache to elect not to participate in AC/P50 if it is not satisfied by the terms of the renewal.

The deal comes after Apache became operator of the WA 482 P permit area in the offshore Carnarvon basin after acquiring a 50% stake in the field from Karoon Gas Australia.