Beach gears up to drill up to six wells with Diamond rig

Beach Energy’s environment plan for development drilling and well abandonment in the Otway Basin offshore Australia has been accepted by Australian authorities. Beach will use the Diamond-owned Ocean Onyx rig for the campaign.

Ocean Onyx rig - Diamond Offshore
Ocean Onyx rig; Source: Diamond Offshore

Under the plan, Beach Energy proposes to drill up to six development wells and abandon three existing subsea wells in Commonwealth waters of the Otway Basin, Australian regulator NOPSEMA said earlier this week.

The development well closest to shore is approximately 54 km from Port Campbell off Victoria’s south-west coast. The proposed development wells and existing subsea wells for abandonment are in water depths ranging from approximately 84 m to 105 m.

Development drilling and well abandonment activities are proposed to be undertaken by a semi-submersible mobile offshore drilling unit (MODU).

The Ocean Onyx semi-submersible rig is currently proposed to undertake this activity. The Ocean Onyx is a conventionally moored, non-self-propelled, column-stabilised MODU owned and operated by Diamond Offshore.

The operational area for the drilling program has been defined as a 2 km radius around the well sites whilst the drill rig is moored on location. The 2 km radius encompasses both the outer extent of mooring equipment on the seabed, and the 500 m rig safety exclusion zone (RSEZ).

Otway development map - Beach Energy
Otway development map; Source: Beach Energy

The Otway Development Drilling and Well Abandonment Program will start at a date to be determined which will be after 1 January 2021 and will be completed before 31 October 2022. The program will take up to 22 months.

Drilling, completion, and well testing is expected to take between 64 to 90 days per well, depending on the final work program and potential operational delays. The well abandonment activities are estimated to take approximately 30 days per well.

Drilling and support operations will be conducted on a 24-hour basis for the duration of the program.

The activities included in this EP are: Drilling activities including MODU operations and any pre-lay anchoring operations; routine support activities such as vessel operations, helicopter operations and ROV operations; and emergency response activities.

It is worth reminding that, after initially planning to use the Ocean Onyx rig fo the development of its undeveloped Otway Basin gas reserves, including the Artisan well, Beach in April 2020 terminated its drilling contract with Diamond Offshore for the Ocean Onyx drilling rig.

The oil company cited the rig’s late arrival date as the reason behind the termination.

However, Beach and Diamond in August 2020 resolved their dispute and signed a new offshore drilling agreement for the use of the Ocean Onyx drilling rig.

The agreement provides for the drilling of up to nine wells (six firm and three options), with drilling operations expected to begin before March 2021.