WHAT HARRY TOPHAM AND PHIL FITZPATRICK saw of those Papuan gas shows is true and their comments [see Recent Comments] do sum up the situation. Others who are technically-qualified and experienced, and lay observers like me, have previously attested to the same thing.
I was present in the area [where InterOil has claimed a major find] during the heyday of Australasian Petroleum Corp and its operations at Puri and elsewhere.
The gas-flow at these holes was not large in quantity and was forced up by water-pressure within the porous strata it’s trapped in. If tapped, it is likely to run out quickly leaving a lot of angry investors with a lot of artesian water.
This is why APC capped numerous holes in the headwaters of the Era, Kikori and Turama/Omati rivers in the late 'fifties thru to around 1961.
I've travelled to the headwaters of both the Purari and the Era rivers, as well as journeyed up the Turama and Omati, and have observed not only one or two of the sealed-off drill sites, but also observed exposed coal-seams in the banks of the upper Era and oily seepages back down in the delta of the same river. (I even dismantled a steel-framed building at the abandoned Omati site for re-erection at Kikori in 1958.)
All this has been well and truly looked at, going as far back as a major exploratory search across the mid-to-upper areas of the Purari, Era and Kikori rivers by Staniforth-Smith in 1908.
This was soon followed by the likes of Papuan Apinaipi, Oil Search and the post-World War II BP/Vacuum (Mobil) - backed Australasian Petroleum Corp whose Catalina service - run by the alleged CIA subsidiary, Worldwide Airways - used to land three times a week at Kikori. One Catalina still rests there, holed and sunk on a sandbank below the station.
The old prospectors in the late 19th century used to say "there's a lot of gold in New Guinea but there's a bloody big lot of New Guinea mixed with it."
The same probably applies to oil and gas. Philips Petroleum searched and set sub-sea seismic charges off all across the Papuan Gulf in the early 'sixties, with shore-stations on Goaribari and Kiwai Islands, and others are now showing interest in areas in the Gulf and off Cape York, I hear.
But they are concerned with gas, not oil. Many more episodes to follow in this story, one thinks.