WESTERN Drilling (WDL) will be able to use its SL7 Helo Rig and camp in Papua New Guinea after receiving confirmation from the PNG Department of Petroleum and Energy that it was fit for use in the country.

New Guinea Energy (NGE), which owns 50 per cent of WDL, said the drilling company had received the required notification during the December quarter, news which came as the group continued efforts to establish WDL as a standalone entity.

NGE also announced that a third party, which it described as “a respected PNG oil and gas drilling manager” would be the new country manager of WDL in PNG.

“[It] will lead the efforts to secure WDL’s next tender, develop mutually advantageous partnership opportunities and possibly sell equity in the business,” NGE said.

WDL also continued its repayments of loans from NGE during the quarter, which were US$7.8 million and an additional US$3.3 million at the end of September 2015.

NGE said WDL had repaid a total of K2 million, roughly US$700,000, during the quarter.

“No material further loan repayments from WDL are expected in the near term,” the company said.

NGE saw its cash balance grow to A$19.9 million by the end of December, after spending A$86,000 buying back and cancelling 4.4 million NGE shares.

The company had also moved to reduce its corporate overheads throughout the quarter, cutting staff numbers in Australia and PNG, including closing its Brisbane and Sydney offices and relocating the Port Moresby office.

“The company is actively looking for and assessing investment opportunities consistent with the new corporate strategy,” NGE said in its announcement.

“Licence farm-out and asset sale discussions are expected to continue in the quarter and shareholders will be informed if any material developments occur.”

NGE has also appointed David Lamm to be its executive chairman after Grant Worner completed his six month term as managing director to implement the early stages of a revised corporate strategy.