Cooper gears up to abandon one and drill two Sole wells

  • Exploration & Production
Ocean Monarch drilling rig; Image: Quadrant Energy

Australian regulator has accepted an environment plan submitted by Cooper Energy for an abandonment of one and drilling of two wells on the Sole field located in VIC/L32 offshore Australia.

Cooper Energy is the operator of production license VIC/L32 which is approximately 65 km from Orbost Gas Plant off Victoria’s coast in Bass Strait. Appraisal drilling has previously been undertaken within this lease, and Cooper Energy is now proposing development drilling of two wells – Sole-3 and Sole-4 –  as well as well abandonment at Sole-2, as part of on-going field development operations within the Sole field.

According to information released by the Australian regulator, National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA), Cooper’s environment plan for drilling and abandonment has now been accepted.




Activities included in the scope of the environment plan include pre‐ mooring activities, drilling, well abandonment, well suspension, support vessels, ROV activities and use of helicopters. All activities will be occurring in water depths approximately 125 m. The Ocean Monarch drilling rig has been engaged for this work scope. Cooper Energy will apply for a 500 m exclusion zone for drilling of the Sole‐3 and Sole‐4 wells, which will remain in place once wells are suspended.

The rig will be moored to allow drilling and completion of Sole‐3 and Sole‐4 without re‐positioning anchors, noting Sole‐3 and Sole‐4 are only a short distance (44 m) away from each other. The mooring design may also allow kedging of the rig to Sole‐2, however re-positioning anchors may be required; this will be determined when the mooring program is finalized.

Activities are anticipated to start the first half of 2018. Drilling and abandonment activities, including contingency pre‐lay of moorings and preparation for Blowout Preventer (BOP) if required, are expected to take approximately 70 days, excluding weather and operational delays. During this period, any of the activities described in the EP may be undertaken, with normal operations conducted 24‐hours a day.

Following completion, Sole‐3 and 4 will be suspended until the Sole development is ready to receive flow from the reservoir. During this period, any of the activities described in the plan may be undertaken, with normal operations conducted 24‐hours a day.

The rig will be towed to location where it will be moored prior to starting activities. Anchors may be placed on the seabed and tested by the support vessels prior to the rig arriving. Eight anchors will be required, with each having a footprint of approximately 30 m2. Each anchor is connected to large chain (83 mm) which runs along the seabed towards the rig for approximately 1100 m before rising towards the rig.

The rig will be supported by two or three anchor handling, tow and support (AHTS) vessels. One vessel will remain on standby and in attendance to the rig throughout the workover program.

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