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Austral Pacific Appoints Two New Directors

13 Jan 2006

Austral Pacific announces the appointment of two new directors to the Board of the Company, with effect from 1 January 2006. The newly appointed directors are Douglas Ellenor of Vancouver, BC, Canada and Peter Hill, currently of London, UK.

The addition of Messrs Ellenor and Hill strengthens the Board's experience in the petroleum industry, as well as in financial areas. The Company's Chairman, David Newman, commented "We are delighted to welcome these two experienced and knowledgeable industry participants to our Board. We look forward to the benefit Austral will obtain from their wide range of experience."

Peter Hill, Ph.D., has over 33 years experience in the international oil & gas industry, having held a range of technical, management and executive positions in both a multi-national and smaller independent enterprises. He worked for 22 years with BP, 4 of those years in New Zealand. He was most recently President and Chief Executive of Harvest Natural Resources, Inc. and remains a director of that company. Dr Hill has a PhD in geology from Trinity College, Dublin. He has worked in Egypt, UK, New Zealand, Australia, South America and the USA.

Douglas Ellenor, Ph.D., has 35 years experience in the exploration and production industry, having spent 25 of those on international assignment with the Royal/Dutch Shell Group in Australasia, Europe, and North and South America. He left Shell in 1996 to become CEO of the Colombian E&P company Hocol SA, a position he held until 1998. After a posting as Business Development Manager in London, he returned home to Canada and established an oil and gas consulting company. Dr Ellenor has a PhD in geology from the University of New England, Australia. He is a member of the Board of Orca Petroleum Inc., Calgary.

To align directors more with shareholder interests, compensation is reflected in performance share options. The Company has granted 60,000 incentive options to each new director, exercisable for 5 years, of which one-third are exercisable at each of US$1.80, $2.00 and $2.50 per share, each tranche vesting at 12 month intervals.

In other corporate news, the CEO succession plan previously announced by Austral is progressing favorably, with a short-list of high calibre candidates currently under consideration. David Newman, Chairman of the Board stated, "The search for a suitable successor to Dr Bennett as CEO of Austral has been conducted in a very professional, thorough manner and I expect the Board to be in a position to appoint a new CEO for Austral in the next thirty days." Dr Bennett has resigned as CEO effective 30 December 2005, and will provide consultancy services to the company through the succession process. Dr. Bennett will continue as a director until the company's annual general meeting planned for May 2006. In the interim, Chairman, David Newman, will be acting CEO.

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