PetroSun, Inc. announced last week that the oil and gas division of the company is to commence drilling operations on the Manuel Seep Prospect well, from which oil, gas and helium zones are to be explored for potential.

Drilling operations will commence upon the receipt of a permit to drill, completion of site location and arrival of the drilling rig. Praxair is already thought to be waiting in the wings to process possible helium produced.

The Manuel Seep Prospect is located in the Holbrook Basin of Apache County, Arizona. PetroSun maintains oil and gas rights to 985,000 plus acres in the Holbrook Basin of Arizona and the San Juan Basin of New Mexico.

The initial well on the Manuel Seep Prospect has a projected total depth of 4,800 feet and will test all prospective oil, gas or helium zones encountered to basement. PetroSun has already received a letter of interest from Praxair to process potential commercial quantities of helium produced from its leasehold in Arizona and New Mexico.

The primary reservoir targets will be formations within the Permian, Pennsylvanian and Devonian series.

PetroSun, Inc. is a diversified energy company with technology and operations in the commercialisation of algae-to-biofuels, microbial enhanced oil recovery, oil and gas exploration and development and oilfield pipe and supply.

Meanwhile, Praxair has revealed it is to cut 60 jobs at its research and development centre in the town of Tonawanda, as the company prepares for leaner times and the financial crunch well and truly bites.

The cuts represent just 5.4% of the company’s workforce of 1,100 at the Praxair Technology Centre, which houses the company’s research and development, engineering, information technology and other functions.

The current economic downturn both in the US and globally is cited as having prompted the company to make the cuts, though the affected researchers, engineers and technology workers will remain on the payroll through the end of the month, and will get severance pay and outplacement assistance.

The move represents the effect of the credit crisis and economic turmoil on the gases industry, which had appeared relatively unscathed until recently.