24/12/2021 - 14:34

Perth Basin permits spur Triangle energy hunt

24/12/2021 - 14:34

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Triangle Energy, operator of the Perth Basin’s only offshore oilfield, is hoping the recent run of company-making onshore gas finds will breathe new life into the drilling prospects near its Cliff Head field. The Perth Basin ‘deep gas’ resurgence has reinvigorated exploration across the Basin, kicking off drilling programs, company takeovers and breathing new promise into a number of companies.

Perth Basin permits spur Triangle energy hunt
Permit WA-481-P surrounds Triangle Energy’s Cliff Head operations. Credit: File

Triangle Energy, operator of the Perth Basin’s only offshore oilfield, is hoping the recent run of company-making onshore gas finds will breathe new life into the drilling prospects near its Cliff Head field.

The Perth Basin ‘deep gas’ resurgence has reinvigorated exploration across the Basin, kicking off drilling programs, sparking a flurry of corporate takeovers and breathing new promise into a number of companies.

The appearance of drill rigs across the Basin is also on the horizon with one trigger being the regulatory approvals for Triangle’s acquisition of a prime piece of offshore acreage, WA-481-P. Triangle told the market today the sale of 78.75 per cent interest and operatorship in WA-481-P “remains pending regulatory approval with NOPTA.”

Triangle, alongside fellow Perth Basin JV partner Pilot Energy are both working to reallocate various assets and mixing up their respective conventional versus renewable energy interests. Triangle is taking approximately 80 per cent of the conventional assets with Pilot taking 80 per cent of the renewables opportunities.

Of the JV partners, Pilot is taking the lead in the proposal to generate offshore power and transmit to shore using synergies around the existing Cliff Head platform and pipeline to shore.

WA-481-P is a vital strategic asset to Triangle given it surrounds the company’s existing Cliff Head field. Also, far from being blue sky, it contains the Dunsborough oil and gas discovery and gas finds at the Frankland and Perseverance wells.

Triangle is paying Pilot $300,000 in cash and a 100 per cent free carry through the $5.75 million work program for the first three years, with Pilot then paying heads up, or pro-rata if it wants to drill a well in year 5.

A statement issued by the JV partners said: “To assure permit compliance following uncertainty concerning regulatory approval of the sale agreement and associated documents, Pilot will progress the WA-481-P work programme independently of Triangle.”

Pilot said it is well advanced with its 2D seismic reprocessing, environmental studies and new 3D seismic survey. It said it intends to ensure the planning and environmental studies also supported the JV’s proposed CCS project and offshore wind projects.

Whilst the onshore Perth Basin has historically always seen the largest dollar value investment, especially in recent years, the offshore Perth Basin has not seen a great deal exploration activity since the Cliff Head field was discovered almost exactly 20 years ago to date. Historically there have been 52 offshore wells drilled compared to more than 300 onshore wells.

The Cliff Head discovery in 2001 sparked a brief flurry of drilling which yielded the Dunsborough, Frankland and Perseverance discoveries. However, the last test of an onshore prospect was the 2017 Xanadu discovery, 15 kilometres southeast of Cliff Head.

Interestingly, the offshore well was drilled using a land rig from an onshore drillpad and punched out under the beach and surf zone to horizontally target the shallow water location.

The effort yielded a promising result finding oil, however 3D seismic revealed the oil pool to be a non-commercial discovery.

The recent ‘deep gas’ discoveries from the Dongara/Wagina sands and Kingia/High Cliff sandstone formations have transformed the onshore Perth Basin. By extension, the offshore Perth Basin has also been given a new lease of life.

The Perth Basin has always been relatively prolific, with discoveries in the 1960s by WAPET, later taken over by Chevron paving the way for WA’s first gas pipeline, the Parmelia Gas Pipeline, to carry gas from Dongara to the Perth commercial and south west industrial markets.

Gas plants were constructed at Woodada and Beharra Springs in the Midwest in the 1980s to process hydrocarbons from the many smaller discoveries made around that time.

Origin Energy and then-Arc Energy drove onshore exploration in 1990s/2000s while ROC Oil made the only offshore discovery and brought Cliff Head A online via a pipeline to the onshore Arrowsmith Processing facility.

In 2014 the game changed again when the Waitsia gas field was discovered by AWE and Beach Energy whilst drilling the Senecio-03 well. It is believed to be the largest conventional Australian onshore discovery in more than 30 years.

The discovery was large enough to see AWE taken over by Mitsui and whilst Origin pulled the shutters on their upstream operations, other established names moved in to set up shop.  Beach Energy gave itself a new business unit with the Waitsia field whilst mining giant Mineral Resources expanded its energy interests in the Basin picking up the pieces left behind from the corporate wreckage of Empire Oil and Gas. 

Strike Energy reinvented itself on the back of its West Eregulla gas discovery and its high-powered board, led by Perth Airport Chairman Nev Power, is now attempting to leverage the company into a proposed downstream urea plant. Fellow minnow Talon also has a seat at the table with its Walyering discovery.

The multiple success stories flowing from the previously unknown Dongara/Wagina sands and Kingia/High Cliff sandstone formations have caused explorationists to look wider to the offshore Perth Basin including Triangle Energy which has beefed up its stake in the area taking  control of WA-481-P.

Notwithstanding WA-481-P, Triangle’s exploration team remains committed to its stepout drilling campaign and is planning the Cliff Head Renewal Project, or ‘CHRP’ aimed at bringing a few more leads close to the Cliff Head platform into production via its existing assets in the field.

The high-potential Mentelle Updip prospect is targeting good quality Irwin River Coal Measures sandstone reservoirs, whilst Triangle believes the West High appraisal lead is a probable western extension of the Cliff Head field.

The SE Nose prospect is a low relief structure updip of the original Cliff Head 1 discovery well.

Triangle Energy is also progressing a front-end engineering design, or “FEED” study on a proposed 5,000 barrel per day modular feed renewable fuel refinery in the mid-west of WA.

The refinery is slated to use crude oil, condensate and bio-crude oil feedstocks to produce renewable diesel and renewable marine fuel blends. With BP Kwinana halting all onshore WA oil operations, Triangle is looking to be master of its own supply chain as it aims to refine its own Cliff Head crude.

The FEED study is set to be completed in the new year with first production earmarked for the first quarter of 2024.

It looms as a busy year for team Triangle, with all facets of the business chasing hard to progress the growth initiatives that management has set in place for the new year.

 

Is your ASX-listed company doing something interesting? Contact: matt.birney@businessnews.com.au

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