Empyrean busy ticking all boxes to drill high impact well off China despite poor weather

Empyrean Energy is working with its partners to start drilling the Jade prospect, located at Block 29/11 permit offshore China, which has already been delayed due to poor weather conditions.

Empyrean is the operator of Block 29/11 in China and has 100 per cent working interest during the exploration phase. In the event of a commercial discovery, its partner, China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC), may assume a 51 per cent participating interest in the development and production phase.

COSL has assigned the NH8 drill rig to drill the Jade prospect - Empyrean
COSL’s NH8 drilling rig. Source: Empyrean

Empyrean and China Oilfield Services Limited (COSL) executed the integrated drilling contract for the drilling of the Jade prospect in November and the well was supposed to be spud between 15 December to 30 December 2021. However, sea conditions have not allowed this project to continue as initially expected as the well site survey has been delayed due to poor weather conditions.

Before the drilling contract, COSL was also put in charge of a well site survey over the Jade prospect. According to Empyrean’s update on Monday, Empyrean and COSL survey engineers held several meetings in the past week to review the well site surveys status and reworked the scope of the survey resulting in a widened operable weather window.

This resulted in a revised scope of survey works and providing a greater sea swell tolerance to conduct the well site survey required over the Jade drilling location. A shorter survey duration requiring 3-4 days of swell less than 1.7m is now required before rig mobilisation and drilling as opposed to previous plans for a 5-day survey with a swell tolerance of 1.2m. The increased swell tolerance of the new scope is specifically designed to give Empyrean and the COSL survey team a greater chance of completing the well site survey sooner.

According to Empyrean, CNOOC EnerTech team, which was hired last November to manage a number of critical pre-drilling permitting and logistical requirements, has made significant progress in securing critical pre-drilling permitting including a standby vessel and environmental impact permits already being completed.

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A further five permits are in progress and expected in the coming weeks with the last of eight permits requiring the well site survey in order to complete.

Jade prospect

The 2021 drilling campaign is targeting a conventional oil target in the Jade Prospect, to which Gaffney Cline & Associates (GCA) assigned a Geological Chance of Success (GCoS) of 32 per cent. Subsequent to this independent assessment, the company completed a gas cloud study and post-stack seismic inversion study that it believes further mitigates risk and increases the GCoS to 41 per cent.

The Jade Prospect has a GCA audited mean in place potential of 225 MMbbl and a P10 in place upside of 395 MMbbl. Four recent nearby discoveries by CNOOC immediately to the West of the Jade Prospect are filled to their P10 potential or better. All four CNOOC discoveries have gas clouds showing in the overburden on seismic.

It is expected that the Jade prospect will take approximately 26 days to reach total depth, with the testing of any oil column encountered expected to take a further 14 days.

Empyrean CEO, Tom Kelly, stated: “The Empyrean, COSL and CNOOC EnerTech teams are all working hard to tick all of the boxes required to get out there and drill the high impact and exciting Jade prospect as soon as practicable. The Jade prospect looks to be one of the highest impact exploration wells scheduled for 2022, globally. We need a little bit of luck from the weather, but we are finding ways to progress despite the unseasonal late poor weather conditions.”