Woodside lets rig contract for outer Canning basin work

Woodside Petroleum Ltd. let a 2-year, $442 million contract to Transocean Inc. to lock in a rig for a drilling campaign in the outer Canning basin offshore Western Australia.

Transocean will supply the drillship Deepwater Millennium for an eight-well program in 1,500-1,000 m of water beginning in February 2014.

The program will fulfil exploration commitments in permits WA-462-P, WA-464-P and WA-466-P in what geologists call the Rowley sub-basin. Woodside has already farmed out 45% in each to Shell. Even so the program expenditure represents about a quarter of Woodside’s annual exploration budget.

The two companies have committed to an 11,000 sq km 3D seismic program across all three permits plus drilling. There will be four wells in 464-P, three in 466-P, and one in 462-P.

It will be a huge program over an area that has just three previous wildcats—East Mermaid-1 (Shell 1973), Whitetail-1 (Woodside 2003), and Huntsman-1 (Woodside 2006)—none of which found hydrocarbons.

Nevertheless both Woodside and Shell remain bullish about the gas potential of the region which lies about 300 km northwest of Broome.

Targets are believed to be both Triassic-age and deeper Paleozoic-age reservoirs.

The first three wells will be Anhalt in 462-P, Detmold in 464-P, and Hannover in 466-P—all named after historic German towns or cities. Other locations will be defined when data from the 2012 3D seismic survey have been interpreted.

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