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Exploration Drilling updates from around the world, summarised by the NVentures editorial team.


Africa (January 2020) by Peter Elliott

Onshore Angola, Eni are believed to be drilling ahead with the Dinge 20-8 in Cabinda North, due to TD in February. Offshore, Eni is planning to continue an exploration campaign on 15/06 with Culca-1 in Q2 2020, after bringing the Agogo field on stream within one year of discovery on the prolific Block 15/06. Further offshore in Block 32, Total have commissioned Maersk to drill a deepwater well after a 10 year pause on the block. Around 15 small discoveries were drilled around 2004 to 2008. This well may be to appraise the Cominhos or Colorau, potential tiebacks to the 2019 Kaombo FPSO developments. Maersk will also drill Block 48 Angola and Block 2913B Namibia on this campaign for Total.

In Algeria, Eni are understood to be drilling exploration wells on the Ourhoud II Block. Equinor and Sonatrach have completed drilling on the first of two wells, ZRK-1.

Several wells are drilling for gas offshore Egypt. Eni is drilling ahead the Nigma-1X (Volans) well with the Tungsten Explorer rig in the North East Hap’y block. To the east the firm is also drilling Ameeq 1 on the North Thekah block, after farming-in with Ratio into the Edison / Energean block. Both wells are thought to be targeting Miocene sands with multi-tcf gas reserves. Further southwest Shell is drilling at the Montu-1 well in West Delta Deep Marine, offshore Nile Delta. Eni are believed to have has completed drilling operations on the Tala-1X well on the Meleiha DL concession and a testing program will begin shortly. Reports suggest Eni is drilling the Bashrush-1 well in the offshore North El Hammad concession. Onshore Egypt, SDX is planning to drill two wells on South Disouq in February-May, Salah and Sobhi.

Onshore Gabon, Maurel et Prom report Kama-1 is still drilling ahead on the onshore Kari license.

Onshore Morocco, SDX have reported high level results on the first 8 of their planned 12 well campaign in the Rharb basin / Sebou Block. 6 discoveries have been made, including OYF-2. New reserves are put at around 2.5 bcf, but with fiscal terms in Morocco being second to none, and gas prices as high as $11/mcf, these reserves are of great value to the company. BMK-1 is the next well being drilled.

In Tunisia the Shalbia 1 well is understood to have completed drilling on the Jenein Sud block as an oil and gas producer (OMV).


Asia Pacific (February 2020) by John Wilkinson

In Australia, Nangwarry-1 located in PEL 155 onshore Otway Basin has been cased and suspended after logging confirmed a gas column of at least 65m (gross) in the Cretaceous upper-Pretty Hill Formation. Detailed laboratory analyses of gas samples from the top Pretty Hill Sandstone indicated CO2 content at around 90%. The operator, Otway Energy together with its 50% partner Vintage Energy, will further evaluate the CO2 accumulation as well as the mid-Pretty Hill Sandstone gas shows. While the joint venture wasn’t targeting CO2, it has been economically produced from wells in both the South Australian and Victorian onshore Otway Basin for many years.

In Cooper Basin permit ATP 2021, Vintage Energy drilled Vali-ST1 to a TD of 3,217m MD and encountered 35m of net gas pay in the primary target Patchawarra Formation. Additionally, from log interpretation there was also gas pay in the Nappamerri and Toolachee Formations and oil shows in some of the Jurassic sands. The joint venture is continuing to evaluate the data from the well and aim to identify the potential for more oil pools and make a work program to test the intervals and to further appraise and develop the discovery. The well has been cased and suspended and is considering the next steps to define the size and commercial potential of this exciting discovery.

In Gippsland Basin permit VIC/P70, ExxonMobil drilled Sculpin-1 in water depths of around 2,239m which will set an Australian water-depth record. The well was targeting a potential large gas prospect. The rig moved off location at the end of January 2020 but no results have been released.

In EP117 onshore Beetaloo Sub-Basin of the Northern Territory, Origin Energy is drilling Kyalla 117 N2-1H ST2, a sidetrack production section of the previously drilled horizontal section along the Kyalla shale formation at a depth of around 1,800m. The previous horizontal section ran into operational problems after only 700m and had to be plugged. Its target length is 1,000 to 2,000m. Elevated gas shows have been detected across the shales whose entire thickness is around 900m. After completion it will be fracture stimulated and production tests will take place.

Also in the Beetaloo sub-basin, Empire Energy is planning to drill for shale gas in exploration permit EP187. Exploration well SL-4 is expected to be drilled mid-2020. The well will focus on the Velkerri and Kyalla Shales which have been mapped as thick and continuous, undisturbed by faulting, and extending from the adjoining EP161 where Santos’ Tanumbirini-1 is flowing gas after recent fracture stimulation.

In the Perth Basin, the Metgasco/Vintage joint venture is planning to drill the Cervantes Prospect, one of the largest undrilled oil prospects in the basin. Government environmental approval applications are imminent and the JV expects to start drilling in Q3 2020. Cervantes is located in the Western Flank area of the L14 production licence, onshore north Perth Basin and is 3km south-west of the Jingemia oil field which has produced approximately 4.6 million barrels of oil to date. The primary target is the Kingia/High Cliff sandstones and an independent report calculated the Mid/P50 prospective resources of the prospect of gross 17.4 mmbo.

Onshore Central Sumatra in Indonesia, Texcal Mahato has drilled PB-2 in Mahato PSC. The well was drilled from the same well pad as PB-1, but no other information or results have been released.

In Myanmar, Eni is drilling wildcat Shwe Nan Htike-1 located in onshore block RSF-5 in the Salin Sub-Basin. It is planned to reach a TD of 3,800m to test sand layers where oil and gas could be discovered.

In New Zealand, OMV’s current drilling campaign continues with Tawhaki-1 in PEP 50119 in the Great South Basin. The Tawhaki Prospect is a basement drape structural trap with up to 470 sq km of structural closure and is interpreted as having Cretaceous reservoirs of similar age and quality to the excellent sandstones encountered in Caravel-1, approximately 130km to the north in PEP38264.

In Papua New Guinea, Oil Search drilled exploration well Gobe Footwall-1 located in PDL 4 in the Central Foldbelt. The well reached a total depth of 4,370m having penetrated the Toro and Iagifu sandstones as planned. However, they were found to be water bearing with only minor oil shows.



Latin America and Caribbean (January 2020) by Rog Hardy


Onshore Argentina, Echo’s CLix-1001 TD’d at 2,247m, with elevated gas shows reported. The well will now be completed and tested.

In Bolivia, Repsol’s Boicobo Sur X1 was drilling ahead 1,700m in December toward a TD of 4,900m. Shell reached 5,240m on their Jaguar-X6 back in August and increased the PTD from 4,429m to 6,310m after updates to the well design and geological model. Total’s Nancahuazu-1 is drilling ahead after a temporary suspension, and YPFB’s Sipotindi-X1 had its PTD increased from 4,500m after reaching 5,300m in December.

Onshore Brazil, Geopark’s Mandacaru 1 was P&A’d after reaching a TD at 670m and encountering non-commercial oil.

Offshore Brazil, Petrobras’s Uirapuru-1, on trend with the Carcara discovery, is drilling ahead with no further updates. They plan a new drilling programme in the deep-water section of the Barreirinhas basin late this year.

Onshore Chile, Geopark’s Jauke Oeste 1 TD’d at 2,925m and is testing.

Onshore Colombia, Gran Tierra spud Cocona-1 and Hupecol spud Daisy-1 and will follow-up with the Montuno-1 well in February.

Offshore Colombia, Noble contracted the Maersk Valiant for a one-well drilling campaign to start in Q3 2020.

Offshore Guyana, Repsol’s Carapa-1 TD’d at 3,290m and encountered ~4m of 27 API net oil pay with a sulphur content of less than 1%. ExxonMobil spud the Uaru-1, close to the Liza discovery, targeting a Cretaceous play.

Offshore Mexico, Shell’s highly anticipated Chibu-1EXP spudded, the first industry deepwater well in the Salinas Basin. On the shelf Cairn are drilling ahead at Bitol-1, Eni have spud Saasken-1, and Pemex are approved to drill Niquita-1EXP, near the Talos Zama discovery.

Offshore Peru, Karoon will spud the deepwater Marina-1 at the end of January.

Offshore Suriname, Apache’s Maka Central 1 TD’d at ~6,300m with 50m net of API 40-60 light oil and gas condensate and 73m net 35-45 API oil in two Cretaceous zones, a major discovery and game-opener for Suriname. They then spud Sapakara West-1 20km from Maka Central 1.

Onshore Trinidad, Columbus’s Saffron well TD’s at 1,412m with logging and testing underway.



Mediterranean and Europe (February 2020) by Jon Ford


In the absence of winter offshore drilling, attention is onshore this month.

In Georgia, Block Energy have successfully tested oil and gas from a horizontal sidetrack from former vertical producer West Rustavi-38Z.

In Germany, Neptune are testing potential oil discovery Schwegenheim-1 in the Rhine Graben, and are drilling ahead to a target below the producing gas field Adorf in N Germany.

In Hungary, MOL are drilling ahead at Pannonian Basin well Sulysap-EK-1. Deep Vienna Basin well Altlichtenwarth T1, Austria, continues to be drilled by OMV.

Ansila’s test of fracked tight Carboniferous well Siciny-2 is cleaning up, onshore Poland.

In Romania, testing is awaited for Pannonian Basin well Iecea Mica-1 (ADX and Reabold) and for deep Carpathian well 6600 Baicoi (OMV Petrom).



Middle East and South Asia (January 2020) by Jonathan Craig

PPL announced two discoveries in late 2019. Khairpur-1 found gas-condensate southwest of the Kandra gas field and Margand X-1 discovered oil and gas.