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


Africa (February 2020) by Peter Elliott

Egypt remains the hot spot for exploration drilling, with Shell and Eni drilling and SDX, TransGlobe and Wintershall (amongst others) planning multi-well campaigns. Energean continue to move into the multi-national gas player role, taking interest in North Thekah (Ameeq 1) and Northeast Hap’y (Volans prospect) via the Edison transaction. Eni has completed drilling the Nigma-1X (Volans) well with the Tungsten Explorer rig in the North East Hap’y block. The rig has mobilised to Lebanon, to spud the first offshore well there (Total, Byblos-1). The Italian major is thought to be still drilling the Bashrush-1 well in the offshore North El Hammad concession, as well as the Ameeq-1 well with the Maersk Discoverer on North Thekah. Nearby Shell is drilling at the Montu-1 well in West Delta Deep Marine, offshore Nile Delta with the Discoverer India still on site. BP is planning to drill an exploration well with the Valaris DS-12, with the contract running until June 2020. Valaris also announced a 4 well contract for DS 12 for BP in Angola, which presumably will follow this well. They may target the North Tabia block, on trend with Ameeq, or Atoll nearby where they committed to a fourth development well recently.

Onshore Egypt, TransGlobe say they are planning four exploration wells in 2020; three in the Eastern Desert and one in South Ghazalat in the Western Desert. SDX have commenced drilling at the Salah-1X (SD-6X) well on South Disouq. Wintershall DEA is planning up to seven exploration wells in its recently awarded East Damanhour block.

In Angola, Dinge 20-8 in Cabinda North (Eni) is still drilling ahead, but no updates have been released. Agogo 3 reportedly boosted reserves to 1 bbo on Block 15/06 for the company. Total appear to have exercised two one-well options and they are currently drilling the second appraisal well of the Cominhos field area in Block 32. Total expect to drill a record breaking 3,628m WD in Block 48 Angola next, followed by the Venus well in Namibia.

In Cameroon, Tower Resources say they have completed a site survey for NJOM-3 (Thali Block) and they hope to spud with an unnamed partner in June 2020.

Onshore Congo, the new owners of the Tilapia Field Zenith are in advanced negotiations for a drilling rig for planned operations on the field.

Onshore Gabon, Maurel et Prom reported a dry well at Kama-1 on the onshore Kari license, with oil shows encountered.

Onshore Morocco, SDX is drilling the BMK-1 well on the Gharb license as part of a twelve well campaign. Predator has exercised a rig option agreement for Rig No. 101 in relation to the Molouya-1 well. Mobilisation is expected between March and April 2020.

In Namibia, exciting developments onshore, where ReconAfrica has acquired a new rig for an upcoming drilling campaign in the Kavango basin, northeastern Namibia near the Caprivi strip.


Asia Pacific (March 2020) by John Wilkinson

In Australia, Equinor has decided not to continue with its plans to drill exploration well Stromlo-1 in Great Australian Bight permit EPP 39. Following a review of its exploration portfolio, it concluded that the project’s potential is not commercially competitive compared with other exploration opportunities within the company.

In the Amadeus Basin, Central Petroleum is planning to drill several low risk/high potential exploration prospects later this year. These include five gas leads (Mereenie Stairway, Palm Valley West, Palm Valley Deep and Dingo Deep, Orange-3) and one oil lead (Mamlambo). The estimated A$50 million cost of the proposed programme is to be funded by a farm-out of the exploration programme and minority interests in the producing NT gas and oil fields.

In EP117 onshore Beetaloo Sub-Basin of the Northern Territory, Origin Energy has successfully completed Kyalla 117 N2-1H ST2. The well was drilled to a total MD of 3,809m, including a 1,579m horizontal section in the Lower Kyalla Formation where elevated gas shows have been detected across the shales whose entire thickness is around 900m. The JV will continue its in-depth shale evaluation program of all the technical data in order to build an understanding of the prospectivity of the Kyalla Formation. The next phase of operations includes the fracture stimulation of Kyalla 117 N2-1H ST2.

In Malaysia’s offshore Sabah Basin deep water block ND4, Petronas completed exploration well Nuri-1 in late December. The well was targeting oil and gas in Paleogene syn-rift clastics and reached a TD of 5,035m TVDSS. No results have been released.

Petronas also drilled Kelapa Bali-1 in offshore Sarawak block SK407. The well was targeting gas in Mid-Miocene Cycle lll carbonates. It reached a TD of 3,659m TVDSS in early February. No results have been released.

In Myanmar, Eni spud wildcat Shwe Nan Htike-1 located in onshore block RSF-5 in the Salin Sub-Basin in late December. It is planned to reach a TD of 3,800m to test sand layers where oil and gas could be discovered. There has been no update as yet.

Also in Myanmar, Posco International has discovered a new gas field with exploration well Mahar-1 located in offshore Block A3 in the Rakhine Basin. It reached a TD of 2,598m mid-January. The well was targeting anticlines in late Miocene/Pliocene turbidite sands which are producing gas in Posco’s nearby Shwe and Mya producing gas fields. A gas column of around 18m was encountered and a DST indicated that the reservoir could yield about 38 mmscfd per day. One or two appraisal wells will be drilled in 2021. This was the second of a 3-well drilling program in the block. The results of the first well, Kissapanadi close to the Mya field, are being assessed. The next well, Yan Aung Myin south-east of Mahar-1, is to be drilled in March.

In New Zealand, OMV drilled Tawhaki-1 located PEP 50119 of the Great South Basin to a TD of 2,980m but was plugged and abandoned since there were no indications that hydrocarbons were present. This was the second exploration well of a 4-well campaign. The other 3 wells are located in the Taranaki Basin. The first, Gladstone-1 (PEP 57075) was completed at the end of December but no results have been announced as yet. Next will be Toutouwai-1 (PEP 60093) and Maui-8 (PMP 381012) which are due to be drilled in Q1 and Q2 2020 respectively.

In Thailand’s Greater Chao Phraya Basin, Pan Orient Energy began a 4-well exploration programme in concession L53. The first well, L53-BB1 began drilling on 4th February but was suspended on the 7th in order to reinforce the well pad. The rig then moved to drill L53-AA2 targeting a structural closure approximately 973m northwest and up dip from the sub commercial hydrocarbons encountered in the L53-DD6ST1 exploration well drilled in 2019. This new well encountered around 6m of probable high quality net oil pay in the AA sandstone reservoir and an additional 5m of possible net oil pay in the overlying SH1 sandstone reservoir over a depth interval of 940 to 994m. Pan Orient has submitted an application for a 90 day production test to the Department of Mineral Fuels. After the completion of drilling L53-AA2, they commenced the drilling of L53-AA1 from the same well pad. The well is targeting a structural closure with a sub-surface location at the top of the AA sand target approximately 1.2 km south and substantially up dip from the AA sand penetration at the L53-AA2. After this, the rig will return to L53-BB1.

Offshore in the Gulf of Thailand, PTTEP drilled Pailin-52 in block B12/27 in January and encountered gas.



Latin America and Caribbean (March 2020) by Rog Hardy


In Southern Bahamas, Bahamas Petroleum continued to make progress lining up funding and permitting for the country’s first deepwater well, Perseverance-1, while pursuing partners.

In Bolivia, Repsol’s Boicobo Sur X1 was at 1,700m in December, expected to reach a PTD of 4,900m soon. Shell’s Jaguar-X6’s PTD was increased from 4,429m to 6,310m and reached 5,240m in August with reports it’s close to the target. Total’s Nancahuazu-1 is drilling ahead after a temporary suspension, reaching 3,400m in January toward an expected TD of ~5,200m. YBFB’s Sipotindi-X1’s PTD was increased to 5,950m and reported to have passed 5,693m with gas shows in the Huamampampa formation.

Offshore Brazil, Petrobras’s Araucaria is drilling ahead, with no further updates. Petrobras spud 1-BRSA-1375-RJS with a PTD of ~3,300m in Q2. Petrobras has begun long-term testing at their Farfan discovery. Shell spud the Gato do Mato-4 appraisal well with a PTD of ~5,500m, to be completed in Q2.


Onshore Colombia, Gran Tierra’s Cocona-1 was abandoned at 2,054m after intermediate casing failed. Cocona-2 was then spud from the same well pad and TD’d at 3,232m, suspended due to mechanical failure. Testing will commence when a new rig arrives.


Offshore Mexico, Cairn’s Bitol-1 TD’d at 5,339m in the Miocene, encountering water-bearing sands in the target zones. Eni spud Ehecatl-1EXP, targeting ~30 API oil in Lower Miocene sands in 420m water with a PTD of ~4,400m. Pemex spud the Coatzin-1EXP with a relatively deep PTD at 6,540-6,690m, targeting the Upper Jurassic Kimmeridgian. Repsol is assumed to have spud Polok-1EXP targeting the Lower Miocene. Shell’s first well in Mexico and the first in Salinas Basin deepwater, Chibu-1EXP is drilling ahead, targeting Oligocene and upper Jurassic objectives.


In Peru, PetroTal’s Bretaña field 6H is drilling ahead and expected to be on production by mid-April for a total field production up to 15,000 bopd.

Deepwater Suriname, Apache’s Sapakara West-1 is drilling ahead 20km from the Maka Central 1 discovery.

Onshore Trinidad production testing of Touchstone’s Cascadura-1ST1 discovery significantly exceeded pre-drill expectations with the lower Herrera achieving a peak production rate over 5,736 boed, including 30.2 mmcfpd, and 710 bpd of natural gas liquids. The upper Herrera achieved a peak rate of 5,760 boed, including 29.4 mmcfd of natural gas and 865 bpd of natural gas liquids. The combined results support an initial production range of 7,750-9,700 boed, including ~40-50 mmcfd natural gas and ~1,100 to 1,400 bpd natural gas liquids.



Mediterranean and Europe (March 2020) by Jon Ford


In the Pannonian Basin, in Croatia MOL is testing Janovac-1 and drilling Senica-1 East; in Hungary MOL is preparing to test Sulysap-1 and are drilling unconventional tight gas well Tótkomlós-1; and in Romania ADX is preparing to test Iecea Mica-1 ahead of spudding Iecea Mica-2.

In the Eastern Mediterranean, a significant event is the spudding of the first well offshore Lebanon, Total’s Byblos-1.

Offshore Netherlands, a key follow up to the GEms Ruby Rotliegend discovery is the spudding of well G18-2 on ONE-Dyas’s large Kampen prospect.

Elsewhere, Neptune is testing Schwegenheim-1 in the Rhine Graben and continue activities below old gasfield Adorf Z15 in the north of Germany. OMV are drilling deep in the Vienna Basin at Altlichtenwarth-1 in Austria and are waiting on testing Baicoi in Romania. Ansila have yet to announce the test results of unconventional well Siciny-2 in Poland.



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

Bapex announced that it has discovered new gas reserves in one of the development wells at the Srikail gas field in Comilla.

Tatweer Petroleum is reportedly drilling two appraisal wells in the Pre-Unayzah gas reservoir of the KAB field and is expected to complete operations by mid-2020.

HOEC discovered oil and gas at its first well, D-2, in Block MB/OSDSF/B80/2016 offshore Mumbai. The next well, D-1, will be drilled next and is expected to reach TD in April.

Total has spud its first well, Byblos-1 in Block 4, offshore Lebanon.

Block Energy has started drilling at well WR-51Z, in Georgia, the third of West Rustavi's wells to be horizontally sidetracked.


Elixir Energy announced that the Nomgon-1 wildcat, in the Nomgon IX CBM PSC in Mongolia, had intersected 82m of net coal with a thickest coal seam of 51m.