By Max Clarke

‘Rockhopper’, a UK based company launched in 2004 to prospect for oil in the remote Falkland Islands, saw its shares jump 38% on reporting today that a bore sunk into Sea Lion Island has evidenced a viable oilfield. After boring down to 2500 metres, the crew discovered a hydrocarbon column of ‘medium grade’ crude.

Samuel Moody, Chief Executive of Rockhopper, commented:
“Following this positive result we believe Sea Lion is highly likely to prove commercially viable. The well has confirmed our ability to identify good reservoir units on the seismic in our acreage with the sands coming in very close to prognosis. We can now continue to appraise the Sea Lion discovery and to explore additional prospectivity within our acreage with added confidence.”

The results of this successful first appraisal well will significantly increase the volume of oil- the existence of which proven to 90% probability, known as P90- for this oil discovery. The P50 and P10 contingent volumes will be defined as the appraisal programme progresses through the remainder of 2011.

The well will now by plugged and abandoned as planned. The Ocean Guardian semisubmersible rig will then proceed to drill the Ninky prospect in which Rockhopper has a nonoperated 7.5% working interest.

Following completion of the Ninky well, Rockhopper intends to drill a minimum of three further appraisal wells on the Sea Lion feature. The Company is currently considering extending that campaign to include additional appraisal and exploration wells.