March 21, 2011 / 8:03 AM / 7 years ago

UPDATE 1-Rockhopper expects Falklands oil find to viable

* Positive results from appraisal well

* Says Sea Lion highly likely to be commercially viable

(Adds detail)

LONDON, March 21 (Reuters) - British oil explorer Rockhopper Exploration (RKH.L) said it expected its Sea Lion well in the Falkland Islands to be commercially viable raising hopes that the remote territory will become a new oil province.

Rockhopper said an appraisal well, 14/10-4, had been successful, encountering a high quality reservoir package, a substantial oil column and recognition of the first oil-water contact in the licence to date.

“Following this positive result we believe Sea Lion is highly likely to prove commercially viable,” Rockhopper Chief Executive Sam Moody said in a statement on Monday.

“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,” he added.

Rockhopper said it would continue to appraise the Sea Lion discovery and to explore additional prospectivity within its acreage.

The Sea Lion well is the first oil find in the British-governed Falkland Islands.

The drilling has sparked protests from Argentina, which claims sovereignty over the Islands it calls the Malvinas and which lie 300 miles from its shore.

In December, AIM-listed oil explorer Desire Petroleum DES.L said it had failed to find oil in a prospective well off the Falkland Islands. [ID:nLDE6B5072]

Shares in Rockhopper closed on Friday at 217 pence, valuing the business at 560 million pounds.

Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by Sarah Young

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