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DALLAS (CBS.MW) - Shares of Triton Energy rose nearly 14 percent Monday after the independent oil and gas company said it made another important oil find off Equatorial Guinea in West Africa.

Triton (OIL) made the discovery - called Okume -- on Block G, making it the second significant offshore find in that area in less than two years. The site is nine miles northeast of Triton's Ceiba Field, the company's first oil discovery off western Africa.

Noting that it is very early in the evaluation process, Triton estimated that prospects from the Okume-1 well are in the range of 25 to 250 million barrels of gross recoverable oil.

"The aggregate gross recoverable oil of the greater Okume area could be very significant, potentially more than the Ceiba Field," said James Musselman, Triton's president and chief executive.

Ceiba is currently producing 45,000 barrels of oil per day from five wells, but the rate is expected to increase to 80,000 to 90,000 barrels per day by early 2002 when 10 producing wells are on line. Triton estimated that, based on the results from Okume-1, the flow rate would range from 10,000 to 15,000 barrels of oil per day.

"This success demonstrates the highly prospective nature of blocks F and G, as well as our other acreage in West Africa, which provides numerous opportunities for sizable long-term reserves and production growth through the drill bit."

Shares of Triton added $3.70 to trade at $30.35 on the New York Stock Exchange.

"This success is really consistent with what they were looking for, and what's most important about it is it points out that the company has done a good job of interpreting the seismic data that they have," said Lewis Ropp, an analyst covering Triton for Frost Securities. "This should give them a lot more confidence going forward with the next exploration wells they have to drill."

Noting the sizable inventory of prospects Triton has built up, Ropp noted that one thing that could slow the company down is the availability of rigs.

"Rigs are scarce in west Africa right now," Ropp said. "One of the strengths of Ceiba was how quickly they were able to commercialize the discovery."

Triton brought Ceiba on production less than 14 months from the time of discovery.

Lisa Sanders is a Dallas-based reporter for

Thank goodness! It's been a long time coming.....


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