Empyrean days away from spudding exploration well off China

After firming up a rig slot with its Chinese partners, Empyrean Energy is looking forward to drilling the Jade prospect well, located in Block 29/11 offshore China, in a few days.

Empyrean reported on Friday that the NH9 rig will be handed over within the next few days for safety checks, while mobilisation to the Jade well location is expected to occur on or around 27 March. The rig had been used to drill a well for China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) immediately preceding mobilisation to Jade.

Tom Kelly, Empyrean CEO, remarked: “We are delighted that we are now days away from being ready to spud one of the highest impact and exciting wells of 2022. Things are getting very real for our team and we look forward to providing shareholders and investors with further updates.”

The announcement comes on the heels of discussions with China Oilfield Services Limited (COSL) and CNOOC to establish rig availability, which came after the recent completion of the well site survey, and receipt of all required permits, following the final well site survey report.

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According to Empyrean, COSL now estimates that the spud date for the Jade well will be on or around 2 April 2022, depending on prevailing weather conditions to ensure the safe anchorage of the NH9 rig at the Jade location.

To remind, the previous timeline for the drilling of the Jade prospect, which was planned between 15 December to 30 December 2021 after Empyrean and COSL executed an integrated drilling contract in November 2021, was delayed due to poor weather conditions.

Furthermore, the CNOOC EnerTech team – hired last November to manage a number of critical pre-drilling permitting and logistical requirements – is providing comprehensive pre-drilling, drilling and testing services to Empyrean for the Jade well. In addition, Empyrean confirmed that its team will be present – along with CNOOC EnerTech – both onshore and offshore on the rig, during the drilling of the Jade well, while the offshore team will include a hand-picked drilling supervisor, well site geologist, mudlogger and an electric logging expert.

Based on the company’s statement, Gaz Bisht – the firm’s technical director with a successful track record of hydrocarbon discoveries offshore China – has already made his way to China and is supervising the operations as part of the onshore team.

Empyrean reiterated that the COSL-owned NH9 rig and its drilling team are drill fit, so the rig will be mobilised straight to the Jade well location from its current position without the need to go back to port.

The firm explained that the Jade well is anticipated to take approximately 26 days to drill from the spud date to total depth on a trouble-free basis, as there are no overly challenging drilling zones anticipated within the Jade well design and programme.

However, testing is planned to take approximately two more weeks, if the Jade well intercepts a hydrocarbon zone, as anticipated. The company intends to provide a further update on its progress next week.

As the operator of Block 29/11 in China, Empyrean has 100 per cent working interest during the exploration phase, while its partner, CNOOC, may assume a 51 per cent participating interest in the development and production phase in the event of a commercial discovery.