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


Africa (October 2019) by Peter Elliott

Offshore Equatorial Guinea in the Rio Muni basin, Kosmos, Trident and Geopetrol are drilling in Block S. S-5 is an appraisal well on the G-13 Upper Cretaceous oil accumulation discovered in 2002. It is part of Kosmos’ Infrastructure Led Exploration programme around Ceiba and the old G wells.

Kosmos have been successful offshore Mauritania, with partner BP, on the C8 licence which hosts the large BirAllah gas discovery. The latest well, Orca 1, reported 11m gas pay in the Cenomanian and 36m gas pay in the Albian. The additional 13 tcf reserves, adding up to around 50 tcf GIIP in the Bir Allah / Marsouin / Orca area, will help justify a second LNG hub.

In Angola, Cabinda, Eni reports the well site for Dinge 20-8, Cabinda North is being prepared.

The Italian major is also busy drilling offshore Egypt, not too far from the mega-gas producer Zohr. The Tungsten Explorer rig mobilised to the Volans-1 well site in the North East Hap’y Block. Elsewhere Shell has began work on a multi-tcf pre-Messinian target, Montu 1, which could be the deepest well to be drilled in the delta, in this case on the West Delta Burullus Block. ADES International and Vantage Drilling say they will start a second deepwater drilling campaign with the Tungsten Explorer on the Nigma-1 well after Volans is drilled. This could be a follow up for Eni, after they bought into the North Thekah block adjacent to North East Hap’y.

In Gabon, Eni report operations are still ongoing at the Nyonie Deep-1 ST1 well, which is sidetracking into a large gas discovery. Panoro and BW reported an oil discovery in the DHIBM well in the Dussafu Block and its associated sidetrack. The new well appears to have revealed at least another 40 mmbo, and BW announced they will restructure their development plans for Ruche based on the new contingent reserves discovered at Hibiscus. Further north at Etame, Vaalco announced the Etame-9P well has found oil in the Dentale reservoir beneath the Etame field (in addition to reserves in the Gamba Formation).

Boudji-2 (Block F14) is believed to have been completed drilling as the rig moved off the site. Petronas is aiming to appraise an economically viable field at Boudji, whilst also looking for partners across their three adjacent blocks here.

Offshore Ghana, the indigenous firm Springfield E&P is drilling the Afina-1X well, after which the Oak-1X well will be drilled on the WCTP 2 Block. The company hopes to extend the oil / condensate play from the Cenomanian part of the Sankofa play east of the WCTP 2 Block.

Onshore Tunisia, OMV are believed to have mobilised a rig to Shalbia-1 and the well is expected to have spud.


Asia Pacific (October 2019) by John Wilkinson

In Australia, Strike Energy has completed the highly successful exploration well West Erregulla-2 located in EP 469 onshore North Perth Basin. A multi-stage production flow test of the Kingia sandstone formation is being performed in order to gather the required formation pressure and performance data that will indicate gas column height and field boundary as well as the sustained production flow rate. Further gas sampling and compositional analysis will also be undertaken to support the project development process for commercialisation of this significant resource.

In Galilee Basin permit ATP 744, Comet Ridge has completed the cementing of production casing across the Lake Galilee sandstone reservoir section in the Albany-2 well. The well was designed to appraise the reservoir flow potential and scale of the Albany gas field discovered by Albany-1 in 2018, located 7.5km to the north-west. The rig has now moved to Albany-1 which is currently being sidetracked through the full reservoir section. This will be followed by the stimulation and production testing of both wells.

In the Canning Basin, Buru Energy is currently drilling exploration well Miani 1 in production licence area L8 some 30km to the north-west of Buru’s Blina Oilfield. The well is targeting conventional oil in a stratigraphic trap interpreted to have been formed by a fault bounded collapse feature enhanced by hydrothermal dolomitisation of the Nullara reefal carbonates. The structure is well defined by 3D seismic data and is analogous to features in North America holding major oil and gas accumulations. It is a relatively shallow (~2,400m) low cost well and is an attractive prospect with significant potential resources. This will be the last well in its 2019 drilling program.

In EP 117 onshore Beetaloo Sub-Basin, Origin Energy is drilling Kyalla 117 N2-1. This is the first well in the Stage 2 drilling programme to target the Kyalla shale gas play. The well is approximately 32km north of the Beetaloo W-1 well. A vertical well is expected to intersect the Kyalla Formation at around 1,750m followed by a horizontal section of approximately 1,000m along the prospective Kyalla shale reservoir interval. This will be completed and stimulated production tests performed.

On the North-West shelf Bedout Sub-basin in WA-437-P, Santos drilled Dorado-3 which was the second appraisal of the Dorado oil and gas field discovered in 2018. The well is located approximately 900m north west of the Dorado-1 which discovered hydrocarbon bearing reservoirs in the Caley, Baxter, Crespin and Milne Members of the Lower Keraudren Formation. Wireline logging confirmed hydrocarbons in the Caley, Baxter and Crespin intervals whilst the Milne Member was found to be water wet. Tests over the Baxter reservoir at Dorado-3 have been completed and exceeded expectations. An initial clean-up test over the Baxter reservoir was conducted over a twelve-hour period and achieved a maximum rate of approximately 48 million standard cubic feet per day of gas and 4,500 barrels per day of associated condensate through a 60/64” choke. An initial flow test of the Caley reservoir was conducted over a 12-hour period and achieved a maximum measured rate of approximately 11,100 barrels of oil per day and 21 million standard cubic feet of associated gas per day through a 68/64” choke. The oil rate is one of the highest ever from a North West Shelf appraisal well test.

Vintage Energy has signed a Letter of Intent with Schlumberger for their SLR-185 rig to drill Vali-1 in ATP 2021, which is due to spud later this year.

Central Petroleum has announced its 2020 exploration programme that will reinvigorate exploration in Central’s Amadeus Basin permits in the Northern Territory. 

The programme comprises five high-graded drillable prospects and two appraisal tests.

Beach Energy has made a gas discovery with Dombey-1DW1 located in PEL 494 onshore Otway Basin. The well was targeting the Pretty Hill and Sawpit Sandstone formations, similar to the adjoining PPL-62 license discoveries. It encountered gas in the primary target Pretty Hill Formation at 1,935 m MD with a gross gas column of 44.5 m with an estimated net pay thickness of 25 m. Further testing and analysis are required to establish commerciality however the initial data is encouraging. The well was drilled with the assistance of a $6.9 million PACE grant from the South Australian government.

Offshore Brunei in the Baram Delta Basin, Brunei Shell Petroleum is drilling PYK-1 which is located south of the Champion Area about 20 km off the Jerudong coast.

In Indonesia, Mentari Pambuang Internasional (Interra Resources) is drilling KP-1 located onshore Central Kalimantan in Kuala Pambuang PSC over the Barito Basin. The primary target is the Lower Berai Formation and is expected to reach a TD of around 1,100m.

Repsol is expected to spud exploration well Anggun-1X at the end of October. The well is located in East Jabung PSC onshore South Sumatra where oil was discovered in Ayu-1 in 2017. The main targets are the Batu Raja reef carbonates which had 5.5m net oil pay at Ayu-1 and the Gumai sands which had oil and gas shows.

In the West Natuna Basin, West Natuna Exploration (Conrad Petroleum, Empyrean, Coro Energy JV) has reached TD in Tambak-2 located in Duyung PSC. The well was set to appraise the properties of the intra-Muda sandstone reservoir in the southern area of the Mako field, as well as gather stratigraphic information from the Lower Gabus interval. The reservoir evaluation program has been completed, including logs, coring, and open hole testing, confirming the well as a successful appraisal of the Mako gas field. The reservoir was found to have excellent porosity and permeability with an overall thickness of approximately 10m compared with 7.3m at Mako South-1. Pressure data indicate lateral heterogeneity across the field and the same gas-water contact depth as Mako South-1 confirming the very large areal extent of the Mako field. An extensive Drill Stem Test will begin shortly. Following the completion of Tambak-2 the rig will move to Tambak-1 to test the Tambak prospect in the Early Oligocene Lower Gabus formation beneath the central area of the Mako gas field as well as evaluate the intra-Muda sandstone reservoir of the Mako field. It is estimated that the successful appraisal of the field could move 100 bcf from the 3C category to the 2C category.

In Thailand, Pan Orient Energy has encountered approximately 5m of interpreted net oil pay within the CC sandstone in exploration well L53-DD6ST1 located in onshore concession L53/48. The interpretation was based on open hole wire line logs, oil and gas shows observed while drilling, pressure data and analogous to the offsetting L53-DD oilfield wells. The preceding well, L53-DD6, was unsuccessful. Pan Orient has submitted a 90 day production test application to the government for the CC sand in both L53-DD6ST1 and L53-DD5ST1 where a net pay of 12m was encountered.

Mubadala Petroleum is expected to commence a near field (Manora) exploration drilling program in November in the Gulf of Thailand Block G1/48 and will consist of 1-2 exploration wells and a contingent side-track. These near field prospects are within 5km of the Manora producing platform so any future production could take advantage of the existing infrastructure. Each prospect has multiple stacked reservoir objectives with largely independent geological risks.

In Timor-Leste, Timor Resources has commissioned Eastern Drilling to drill up to 5 wells on onshore TL-07-17-08 Block A in the Covalima District. The first will be Karau that will target the Viqueque formation. The others are Kumbili, Lafaek, Raiketan and Laisapi.



Latin America and Caribbean (October 2019) by Rog Hardy


In Argentina:

-Echo Energy is preparing to drill the La Vanguardia x-1 to ~3,000m, which is the first of a proposed four well programme.

-Geopark’s Aguada Baguales Sur 1 reached TD and testing is ongoing. They will drill a second well in Q4.


In Bolivia:

-Shell increased the PTD for Jaguar-X6 from 4,429m to 6,310m and reached 5,240m in August.

-Total is drilling ahead on Nancahuazu-1 with no updates.

-YPFB increased the PTD for Sipotindi-X1 from 4,100m to 4,500m after reaching 3,800m in June.

-YPFB spud Yarará X1 with a PTD at 3,000m.

-YPBF spud the Mayaya Centro X1 appraisal well with a PTD of 5,500m.


In Offshore Brazil:

-Shell’s Gato do Mato well has reached TD, with hydrocarbon shows reported.

-Shell spud at Alto de Cabo Frio Oeste, expecting to reach a PTD of 5,200m by December.

-Total spud the Lapa field LPA-NE-P5.

-Equinor started a production test on the Guanxuma discovery.

-Petrobras’ 3-SES-193 TD’d with no results released.


Onshore Brazil:

-BGM is drilling ahead on 3-SDR-2-ES.

-Eneva is drilling the 4ENVSWPGN1MA on their onshore PN-T-48 Block with no further updates.

-Geopark’s Reconcavo basin Praia dos Castelhanos-1 found oil in Q2, with long-term testing currently averaging 200-220 bopd.

-Geopark expects to start drilling the Mandacaru prospect in POT-T-747.

-Imetame is drilling 1-REN-1-BA on the REC-T-212 Block with no further updates.

-Petrobras is drilling the Potiguar Basin 3ET2200RN with no further updates.


In Chile, Geopark plan to drill Jauke Oeste 1 in the Fell block in Q4.


Onshore Colombia:

-Canacol is rigging up Arandal-1.

-Ecopetrol’s Flamencos-1 TD’d at 2,620m with 16m of basal sand flowing an average 600 bopd of 30º API oil.

-Frontera plans to drill 24 development and 5 exploration wells in Q4 2019, including La Belleza-1.

-Geopark’s Guaco-1 TD’d at 3,638m encountering oil, and flowed a calculated 960 bopd of 24.6 API oil with traces of water.


In Offshore Guyana:

-ExxonMobil spud Ranger-2.

-Repsol will spud Carapa-1 on the Kanuku block soon.


In Offshore Mexico Sureste Basin:

-Cairn’s Alom-1 TD’d at 2,056m as a dry hole. They plan to spud Bitol-1 in the same block in November.

-Eni have spud Saasken-1 in the Sureste Basin Area 10.

-Eni will change their drilling plan for Area 7, with Ehecatl-1EXP in November and another well to follow in 2020.

-PETRONAS completed the Yaxchilan Este-1 with no results released.


Onshore Mexico Pemex reports three unconventional discoveries with gas and oil ranging from 36 to 48 degrees API:

-Maxochitl-1EXP with upper Jurassic Oxfordian reservoirs.

-Kaneni-1EXP and Pankiwi-1EXP with Upper Jurassic Tithonian intervals.


In Offshore Suriname:

-Apache spud Maka Central 1 close to the successful Lisa/ Haimara trend in Guyana and will go directly to a second well.

-Staatsolie P&A’d Kankantrie-01 in Block A without releasing results, and moved the jack-up to drill Gonini-01 in Block C.


Offshore Trinidad BHP have completed 2 wells in in block TTDAA14:

-Boom-1 TD’d at 5,035m encountering hydrocarbons.

-Carnival-1 was dry.


In Onshore Trinidad, Columbus have mobilised a rig to the Saffron site and will spud by end October.



Mediterranean and Europe (November 2019) by Jon Ford

West of Shetlands, United Kingdom, is the region’s most active area: rumours forced Hurricane to announce that the Warwick West naturally fractured basement well is preparing to test, while CNOOC’s Howick prospect is dry and Cragganmore appraisal test has been disappointing.

In disputed Cyprus waters, TPAO have moved off location with 2 deepwater wells but with no technical commentary.

Onshore Germany, Rhein Petroleum have succeeded in getting Rhine Graben well Steig-1 to flow and are bullish about commerciality.

Onshore Romania, OMV Petrom‘s deep HPHT Carpathian foredeep exploration programme is yielding success although details are limited: in addition to gas & condensate production starting at Totea South, both Baicoi and Barbatesti will be tested. In the same drilling campaign the Cobia well was abandoned.



Middle East and South Asia (October 2019) by Jonathan Craig

NIOC reported that it has discovered in-place reserves of 19 tcf gas and 385 mmboe of condensate in Eram field, Fars province, with potential revenue of US$40 billion.

CC Energy Development (CCED) is drilling the Yusr-1 exploration well 9km northwest of Mazarrah discovery in Block 3, Oman.

Petro Matad declared the Heron-1 wildcat was an oil discovery with recoverable reserves of 25 mmbo. Meanwhile, the Gazelle-1 well has been suspended for future evaluation after good wet gas shows were recorded throughout a shale prone section and a 3m of net oil pay was identified in good quality sandstone.

PPL is understood to be continuing to drill its first exploration well, Madain-1, in Block 8. The well, approximately 120 km east of Baghdad, will be drilled to a TD around 5,000m.

OGDCL discovered gas and condensate from its Togh #01 well, in district Kohat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan.