Online exclusive: Woodside to drill up to three wells in the Beagle subbasin

Robin Dupre

Sr. Technology Editor

Woodside Petroleum has announced plans to drill up to three wells in the emerging Beagle subbasin to test prospects east of the Angel platform and west of the play-opening Phoenix South-1 discovery as part of its bid to rejuvenate its North West Shelf portfolio.

The three wells will be drilled in license areas WA-472-P and WA-473-P and are located 66-200 km (41-124 mi) northeast of Dampier, Western Australia. The prospects, Skippy Rock-1 and Buttons Crossing-1, are located in WA-472-P while Big Brooks-1 sits within WA-473-P. All the targets are within 60-90 m (197-295 ft) of water; however Woodside will use a semisubmersible drill rig over a jackup rig, most likely the Atwood Eagle, the company noted.

The two WA-472-P wells are required to be drilled by May 2016 after the company secured a 12-month permit extension; while the well in WA-473-P, originally due by May 2016, has been pushed back into final permit year, Woodside stated. The first well scheduled for drilling is expected to be Skippy Rock-1, which is testing a medium-sized target, between 20-100 MMbl.

Interest in the Beagle subbasin has been amplified by the Phoenix South-1 discovery in WA-435-P to north, where Quadrant Energy plans to drill the Roc-1 well before the end of the year, the company noted.

Woodside’s last attempt at making a discovery in the Rowley subbasin area of the Roebuck basin, Anhalt-1 in WA-462-P, was an expensive deepwater duster. The well, located in part of the so-called Outer Canning campaign, Anhalt-1 was drilled to 5,105 m (16,749 ft) before being P&A’d as a dry hole. It joined Hannover South-1 and Steel Dragon-1 as dusters. Subsequently BHP handed its 21% interest back to Woodside (now 55%) and Royal Dutch Shell (now 45%).

The overlooked Triassic play in the Carnarvon and Roebuck basins is firmly on the radar of Australia’s oil hunters following the Phoenix South oil strike. Woodside’s work will precede BHP Billiton’s plans for Beagle subbasin drilling in 2017-18. BHP has said it is chasing a largely untested liquids play in the Beagle subbasin of the Carnarvon basin. The company has acquired around a 25,000-sq km (9,653-sq mi) position in the subbasin, where it sees a largely untested “tier 1 liquids play” on trend with the Barrow subbasin. It has defined four leads to date, each of which has potential of more than 400 MMbbl recoverable reserves.

BHP secured WA-484-P from original applicant CNOOC and last year picked up a 55% interest over the 12,548-sq km (4,845-sq mi) WA-480-P from Repsol. WA-480-P has water depths between 1,000-4,500 m (3,281-14,764 ft) deep, while most of WA-484-P is in more than 2,000 m (6,562 ft) of water. The 30,000-sq km (11,583-sq mi) Beagle subbasin is adjacent to the Rowley subbasin and Beagle subbasins, close to the emerging Bedout subbasin Triassic oil play. It has fewer than two dozen well penetrations, with a single oil discovery, just 5 MMbbl in the Calypso formation defined by the Nebo-1 well.

Woodside stated that it will drill Swell-1 in the Exmouth subbasin in 2Q 2016. Swell, another medium-sized prospect, is an older North West Shelf prospect previously worked up by BHP Billiton and Apache Energy when they held the area. Woodside secured WA-483-P in May 2013 and a well is due by May 2016. Woodside completed the 1,264-sq km (488-sq mi) Babylon 3D survey over Swell last year.

The prospect is understood to be a Triassic tilted fault-block play with three-way dip closure, with the Mungaroo, Birgadier, and Barrow formation being the primary targets.

Woodside will have the Ocean Apex under contract in time for the Swell-1 drilling, but the semisub is expected to be assigned to the Greater Western Flank 2 drilling program, assuming a positive final investment decision is made this year.

Internationally, Woodside is planning to drill Hongge-1 in South Korea and the Shwe Yee Htun and Tha Lim prospects in Myanmar, all of which are more than 100-MMboe targets.


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