Rockhopper drills a dry hole at Ernest in the North Falkland Basin

By Phaedra Friend Troy

Rockhopper Exploration (LON:RKH) revealed today that its 26/6-1 exploration well drilling the Ernest oil and natural gas prospect offshore the Falkland Islands came up dry.

Located in North Falkland Basin, the Ernest 26/6-1 exploration well was drilled to a total depth of 2,240 meters deep and well logging operations have commenced. The well was targeting the estimated prospective recoverable resources at Ernest of 130 million barrels of oil.

“The result of Ernest is disappointing, but the well was always designed to investigate an entirely different geological play type from Sea Lion, to which our focus now turns,” said Sam Moody, the managing director of Rockhopper.

In May of this year, Rockhopper discovered oil at its Sea Lion prospect with exploration well 14/10-2. Ernest was the company’s second exploration well to drill offshore the Falkland Islands, and only the fourth well ever in the South American region.

Ernest was drilled 120 kilometers from the Sea Lion discovery in a previously unexplored part of the North Falkland Basin. Testing a completely different play type from the Sea Lion discovery, the Ernest well did encounter good quality sands that portrayed high porosity and permeability.

Rockhopper will conduct extensive post-well studies of all the data and information gathered from the Ernest well.

“Once operations are complete at Ernest, our intention, subject to the usual regulatory consents, is to test the Sea Lion discovery and gain as much information from the well as possible as we continue to plan a potential appraisal campaign.'”

The current exploration campaign is being conducted by the Ocean Guardian semisubmersible drilling rig, which was contracted through a rig-sharing program with Desire Petroleum (LON:DES) and Falkland Oil & Gas (LON:FOGL).

There have been two discoveries during this drilling campaign. In addition to Rockhopper’s Sea Lion discovery, Desire hit natural gas with its Liz well.

Both the oil and gas industry and the investment community have kept a keen eye on the exploration program offshore the Falkland Islands because it could represent a totally new oil and gas province in the South Atlantic.

Rockhopper holds 100 percent interest in four offshore production licenses in the North Falkland Basin, including PL023, PL024, PL032, and PL033, as well as working interest in PL003 and PL004.

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