16/07/2013 - 14:19

Apache and partners announce Bianchi gas discovery in Carnarvon Basin

16/07/2013 - 14:19

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Apache Northwest, Santos and Tap Oil announced today that drilling at the Bianchi-1 natural gas well co-owned by the three companies had confirmed a gas discovery, the second for the companies' offshore Carnarvon Basin joint exploration projects.

Bianchi is located in the WA-49-R retention lease, around 60km north-west of Onslow and west of Barrow Island, and approximately 21km south of the Gorgon gas field. It is the second confirmed gas discovery in the retention lease, after the Zola-1 well, owned by the same companies and located about 6.4km south-west of the Bianchi site, tested positive in April 2011.

Apache and partners announce Bianchi gas discovery in Carnarvon Basin
The Ocean America semi-submersible deepwater drilling rig that made the discovery

Apache Northwest, Santos and Tap Oil announced today that drilling at the Bianchi-1 natural gas well co-owned by the three companies had confirmed a gas discovery, the second for the companies' offshore Carnarvon Basin joint exploration projects.

Bianchi is located in the WA-49-R retention lease, around 60km north-west of Onslow and west of Barrow Island, and approximately 21km south of the Gorgon gas field.

It is the second confirmed gas discovery in the retention lease, after the Zola-1 well, owned by the same companies and located about 6.4km south-west of the Bianchi site, tested positive in April 2011.

Drilling at Bianchi, conducted using the Ocean America deepwater rig, started on April 12 this year.

It was announced only the day before that the Ocean America had discovered gas at the Olympus well, located in the adjacent WA-250-P permit of which Apache owns 75 per cent.

The estimated drilling duration of 80 days for Bianchi proved slightly optimistic in the face of rig repairs early this month.

Drilling was conducted to a total depth of 5,429 metres, encountering 112 metres of net gas pay.

Tap Oil CEO Troy Hayden and Apache's MD of Australian operations Faron Thibodeaux both emphasised that the Bianchi well was important in furthering understanding of the potential options for commercial development options within the greater Zola area.

Apache's media release noted that the company plans to invest $US1.9 billion ($A2.07 billion) in its Carnarvon Basin exploration project in 2013.

Santos vice-president (Western Australia and Northern Territory) John Anderson said Bianchi materially added to the resource potential of the Zola complex.

Santos Head of Exploration Bill Ovenden agreed, saying the company was now confident that multiple low-risk drilling opportunities existed within the retention lease and within the adjacent WA-290-P lease owned by the same joint venture. Bianchi's location, sitting very close to the border of WA-290-P, lends support to Mr Ovenden's optimism.

Apache, the joint venture's operator, holds the largest share (30.25 per cent) of WA-49-R and WA-290-P.

The remaining ownership is distributed amongst Santos (24.75 per cent), Tap (10 per cent through its wholly-owned subsidiary Tap Shelfal), and the non-ASX-listed companies OMV Australia (2 0per cent) and JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration (15 per cent).

The Bianchi well is being plugged and abandoned in accordance with the pre-drill program. At the last update, Tap Oil shares had shot up 5 per cent from yesterday's closing price to 52.5 cents.

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