The operator, Genel Energy, has stated further evaluation of the significant oil column will be required to determine whether this discovery is commercially viable.

The well encountered a 300m oil column in the Jurassic with matrix porosity of 17% when spud to 3933m in the Chia Zairi formation.

The well has now completed drilling and initial testing and has been temporarily suspended while a work over rig is moved to the location to conduct an extended well test.

Genel Energy chief executive Tony Hayward said whilst the presence of a significant oil column is encouraging, further evaluation with the right flow test equipment is required before we can determine whether this discovery is commercially viable.

Gulf Keystone chief operating officer John Gerstenlauer said the company looks forward to the operator’s update on further evaluation of the significant 300m oil column encountered by the Ber Bahr-1 exploration well.

"Meanwhile our high impact 2012/2013 drilling programme in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, targeting 5 exploration and 7 appraisal wells across the Shaikan, Sheikh Adi and Akri-Bijeel blocks, is in progress," he added.

"We continue to work hard to prove up the impressive resource estimates for these three blocks, which add up to at least 16 billion barrels of gross mean oil-in-place."

Gulf Keystone has a 40% stake in the Ber Bahr block, while Genel Energy holds 40% and the Kurdistan Regional Government a 20%

The operator’s resource estimate for the Ber Bahr block is 1.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent-initially-in-place.