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Prospectors Gain Access to Promising Mountain Area

September 25, 1989

MUSCAT, Oman (AP) _ Desert gas prospectors in the remote northern Oman hinterland have finally gained access to a promising mountain area first noticed by legendary explorer Wilfred Thesiger 50 years ago, oil industry sources said Sunday.

They said Petroleum Development Oman drillers next week will attempt to establish a well on the summit of the 1,300-foot Jebel Madmar near the oasis town of Adam, ancestral home of the Al Bu-Said tribe from which Sultan Qaboos, ruler of Oman, is descended.

One of the largest undrilled prospects left in Oman, Jebel Madmar is described by Muscat-based geologists as a classic hydrocarbon-trapping anticline and a promising discovery.

Thesiger, the first European to penetrate the Oman desert and live with its nomadic tribesmen, wrote about Jebel Madmar and the neighbouring Jebel Salakh in his book ″Arabian Sands.″ He described the mountains as dome-shaped formations ″regretfully″ associated with hydrocarbons by geologists.

It took 50 years to follow up on his observation because the prospect was virtually inaccessible and required modern road construction technology, said the sources, who spoke on condition they not be named.

The cost of building the access road to the drilling location has not been disclosed but was equivalent to the cost of drilling an ordinary well, they said.

Until now, Petroleum Development Oman has been concentrating on targets beneath the desert thaet offer easier access for seismic crews and rigs.

A state-financed natural gas exploration program was launched in Oman five years ago in a bid to save fuel oil.

Reserves were estimated at 7 trillion cubic meters at the beginning of 1988, the latest year for which figures are available.

About $15 million was being invested in gas development projects this year, according to a government spokesman.

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