Santos completes 30% of 17,200-lkm 2D shoot

Vol 11, PW 19 (07 Feb 08) Exploration & Production

Australian oil and gas company Santos is moving swiftly to ensure it can drill its first exploration well in the ultra deep waters of the Bay of Bengal by late 2010 or early 2011.

Santos kicked-off exploration of blocks NEC-1 and NEC-2 on December 24 (Christmas Eve) when seismic boat CGG Polar Duke began shooting a five-month 2D â€کgrid’ survey across both blocks from north to south and east to west. NEC-1 measures 7790-sq km and NEC-2 measures 8706-sq km; water depths in both blocks range from the moderately deepwater 400 metres to ultra deepwater 2500 metres.

By last week Santos had completed 30% of the 17,200-lkm 2D shoot across both blocks and expects to complete the survey in May this year. “Four years is a very aggressive timeframe to drill a well in a deepwater block of this nature,â€‌ Santos geoscience and new ventures VP Trevor Brown tells PETROWATCH from Adelaide.

“This is a relatively under-explored area with a paucity of data but fundamentally sound geological prospectivity.â€‌ Looking ahead, Santos wants to begin shooting its minimum work programme commitment of 4000-sq km 3D by end-2008 or early-2009 and has issued tender documents to five of the worlds biggest seismic acquisition companies, following receipt of Expressions of Interest.

Seismic experts tell us PGS, CGG Veritas, Fugro and Western Geco would all be interested in this tender, given its size. When all the 3D seismic is interpreted, Santos will prepare the ground for its one commitment well in water depths of 1500-2000 metres.

Will the well come in Santos knows it needs a mammoth discovery to make the economics of a billion-dollar development programme viable. Most agree Reliance’s $8bn development of D6 is at the lower end of what Santos would need if it were successful.

Reliance is lucky with D6 close to shore; NEC-2 and NEC-1 by contrast are in the middle of nowhere, hundreds of miles from shore. How big would the Santos discovery need to be “It’s difficult to put an exact number to it,â€‌ admits Brown.

“But it would have to be in the multi-tcf range.â€‌ Does this area hold that promise “We wouldn’t be interested if we didn’t think they had this sort of potential.