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


Africa (May 2020) by Peter Elliott

In Algeria, Sonatrach and Equinor are reportedly drilling the IOI-1 well in the Timissit license.

Onshore Angola, Eni have completed drilling the Dinge 20-8 in Cabinda North. No results have been reported.

Offshore Angola, Total are expected to drill their ultra-deepwater well in Block 48, but Covid-19 issues are delaying the mobilisation.

Egypt remains very busy for exploration drilling. The headline news is that Eni (with partners Total, BP and EGAS) have made a gas discovery with the Bashrush-2 well in the offshore North El Hammad concession with 120m of gas shows initially encountered, then 105m net gas pay in Abu Madi formation.

BP is drilling the Atoll North-1 well in the North Tabia offshore license with Valaris DS-12, which is contracted until June 2020. The well is drilling at 4,500m as of mid-May in the Tortonian Formation. Onshore, PetroSannan encountered oil in the Bahariya Formation in the AES-E1 5-1X well on the Alam El Shawish East lease. Khalda are drilling the Goose X well on Khalda Offset in the Western Desert, Nickel-1X on Khalda Offset Ext. III and the W. Kal. A-25X well on the West Kalabsha license. W. Kal. A-25X well targeted the Alam El Bueib-6 and Paleozoic formations and was reported dry. El Alamein have reported two oil discoveries on the Est Abu Sennan and East Alamein Development Licences; the EAS-G-2 well encountered ~30m net oil pay in the Upper Bahariya Formation; and Horus N-3X encountered 8.23m oil in the Upper Cretaceous Abu Roash formation. Petro Mallaha have encountered oil on the Abu Marwa N-2 well in the W. Esh El Mallaha Extension license onshore Gulf of Suez. The well was targeting the Nukhul, Thebes and Matulla formations, logging 36.5m oil in Lower Miocene sands. Agiba (Eni) have completed drilling the Karm-1X as a dry hole and Mandees-W-1X well (still logging) on the Meleiha and SW Meleiha development lease blocks.

Offshore the eastern Gulf of Suez, Gulf of Suez Pet Co / Dragon are currently drilling the GS327-A14 (Jade-1) well, targeting the Middle Miocene.

Onshore Tunisia, Eni have completed the Debech-B1 well in the Debech license as an oil and gas discovery. The well tested 700 bopd and 7.5 mmcfgd from the Silurian.

Onshore Senegal, Fortesa plan to drill two step out wells at the Gadiaga field area.

Drilling commitments for 12 to 24 months remain relatively strong, albeit based on relatively low levels of drilling pre-Covid. Total for example have applied for environmental permission to drill up to 10 exploration wells in the Outeniqua Basin in South Africa, beyond those committed to the Brulpadda trend.


Asia Pacific (May 2020) by John Wilkinson

In Australia, in the offshore Victorian Otway Basin permit VIC/P43, Beach Energy was due to spud Artisan-1 in mid-April. However, since Diamond’s semi-submersible Ocean Onyx rig arrived later than had been agreed in the rig contract, Beach exercised its right to terminate the agreement. The well will still be drilled and the two parties are in discussions to negotiate a new rig contract but it is unlikely to commence until some time in FY2021. Beach is also planning to spud Enterprise-1 in the second half of 2020. The well will drilled onshore to offshore using ‘extended reach drilling’ technology with the potential gas reservoir located in VIC/P42(V) at a distance of 5-6 km from the coastline and up to 2,700m below sea level.

In the Cooper Basin, Beach Energy drilled two oil exploration wells in ex PEL 92 in March. Glenelg North-1 (PRL 94) tested a Namur reservoir structural trap to the north-west of the Callawonga oil field and Sellicks South-1 (PRL 102) was drilled to investigate the oil potential at the Patchawarra reservoir target level to the south of the Sellicks oil field. Both were unsuccessful and were plugged and abandoned. Beach also reports that its Cooper basin JV recently drilled four gas exploration wells drilled at a 75% success rate, adding new fields at Merchant in South Australia and Toltec and Ute in Queensland. The other well, Durham Downs West-1 in Queensland, was unsuccessful.

Onshore Perth Basin, Mineral Resources, are in discussions with other Perth Basin operators in order to secure a rig to drill Lockyer Deep-1 in EP368. The rig contracting process has been impacted by restrictions and uncertainties due to the COVID-19 crisis, so Energy has applied for a 12-month suspension and extension to the EP368 work commitments as the permit year is due to expire on 30th June 2020. The well is to target the Kingia and High Cliff sand reservoirs.

Onshore Central Sumatra in Indonesia, Texcal Mahato discovered oil in PB-2 located in Mahato PSC. According to The Indonesian Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources the discovery amounts to 61.8 mmbo. Cue Energy, a partner in the PSC, interprets this as an oil in place P50 resource estimate.

In the South Natuna Sea Block B of Indonesia, Medco had a successful gas discovery with Bronang-2. According to The Indonesian Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources the discovery amounts to 79 bcf. Medco plans to spud another well in the block soon.

In Pertamina’s Toili work area in the Banggai Regency, Central Sulawesi, Pertamina discovered 333.6 bcf of gas reserves after completing Wolai-002. Pertamina intends to drill one or two more appraisal wells in an attempt to better clarify resources.

In Myanmar, Berlanga drilled M8-E1 in offshore Moattama area Block M-8 in March. The primary target was the Lower Miocene Upper Burman Limestone with a planned TD of 1,168m. The well was found to be dry.

In Thailand’s onshore Phitsanulok Basin Block S1, PTTEP recently drilled WMG-D01(DA). Oil was discovered but it has not reported how much.

In the onshore Khorat Basin Block L29/50, TPI Refinery is currently drilling DKT-1.



Latin America and Caribbean (May 2020) by Rog Hardy


In Bolivia, Repsol’s Boicobo Sur X1 was last reported to be at 1,700m in December, drilling toward a PTD of 4,900m. Shell’s Jaguar-X6’s PTD was increased from 4,429m to 6,310m after reaching 5,240m in August. Total’s Nancahuazu-1 is drilling ahead after a temporary suspension, reaching 3,400m in January toward a PTD of ~5,200m. YBFB’s Sipotindi-X1’s has reached TD below 5,693m and is being tested. Gas shows were reported in the Huamampampa formation.

Offshore Brazil, Petrobras’s Araucaria is at or near TD, with oil shows. Petrobras’s Natator (1-BRSA-1375-RJS) encountered oil in post-salt carbonate reservoirs and is drilling ahead to a TD of ~3,300m. Shell spud Saturno 1, targeting a pre-salt objective with an expected TD of ~5,100m.

Onshore Chile, Geopark’s Huillin 1 TD’d at 2,875m and was P&A’d after encountering non-commercial oil. Their Leun 1 TD’d at 2,380m and is testing.

Offshore Guyana, ExxonMobil spud Yellowtail-2, which is expected to TD in June.

Offshore Mexico, Repsol’s Polok-1EXP TD’d at 2,620m and encountered ~200m net oil pay in two Lower Miocene sand zones, while their Chinwol-1EXP TD’d at 1,850m and encountered ~150m net oil pay in three Pliocene sand zones. They will now drill the Juum-1 in the frontier deepwater Cordilleras Basin Area 10. Eni’s Ehecatl-1EXP TD’d at 4,451m with no hydrocarbons found. Shell’s Max-1EXP, targeting the Jurassic with a PTD of 7,480m is drilling ahead. Pemex’s Coatzin-1EXP is drilling ahead with a planned TD of 6,600m, targeting the Upper Jurassic Kimmeridgian. CNOOC will spud the Perdido Foldbelt Ameyali-1EXP in May, with a PTD of 6,146m and targeting Paleocene/Eocene Wilcox sands.

Offshore deepwater Suriname, Apache’s Kwaskwasi-1, targeting Upper Cretaceous sands, is assumed to have spud, after the Noble Sam Croft moved into position following the Sapakara West-1 discovery.

Onshore Trinidad, ColumbusSaffron well TD’d in December after encountering 96m net oil pay in stacked Tertiary sands and is currently producing at ~500 bopd on extended test.



Mediterranean and Europe (May 2020) by Jon Ford


The Eastern Mediterranean hotspot has returned to the centre of attention: Total’s first well offshore Lebanon is a dry hole, failure due to a lack of reservoir. TPAO have spudded Seljuk-1 in disputed waters licensed by Greek Cyprus to ENI, north of carbonate buildup gas discoveries Glaucus and Calypso.

Onshore Europe there have been gas discoveries by NAM in the Netherlands at SPKO-4, and by Neptune in Germany at Adorf Z15. OMV’s deep well in the Vienna basin, Austria is believed to be dry.



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

DNO spud Zartik-1 in the Baeshiqa license, Kurdistan, on 15th May 2020. The well is some 15km southeast of the second well.

DNO announced that testing at Baeshiqa-2 was completed with oil and gas discovered in three separate Triassic aged reservoirs.

Total’s Byblos-1 wildcat, offshore Lebanon, reached a TD of 4,076m, finding no significant hydrocarbons. However, traces of gas encountered indicate a hydrocarbon system.

HOEC discovered oil and gas at its second well, D-1, in Block MB/OSDSF/B80/2016 offshore Mumbai. During testing the well boosted expected production from the field to 5,000 bopd and 20 mmcfgd.

Pakistan Petroleum Ltd (PPL) is currently testing a deeper section of the Chiltan Formation at its Margand X-1 well, Margand Block, at a TD of 5,100m. PPL is believed to have found significant gas resources in the block, although no size has been announced yet.

PPL plugged and suspended the Bela West X-1 well, in Bela West block, due to operational issues.

TPAO has spudded a further well, Seljuk-1, in disputed waters offshore Cyprus. It is located within Block 6, which was awarded by the Cypriot authorities to Eni.

PPL reported that its first Iraqi exploration well, Madain-1, in Block 8, encountered sub-commercial oil and has been suspended.