Photo: Illustration purposes only (Image courtesy of ExxonMobil Australia)

ExxonMobil starts drilling for new gas off Australia’s Victoria

Esso Deepwater Gippsland, ExxonMobil’s Australian unit, started an offshore exploration drilling program in the Gippsland Basin to search for new sources of gas.

The company is drilling two exploration wells, known as Baldfish and Hairtail, on the VIC/P70 block as part of its investment program to find and bring online new gas supplies.

Esso Deepwater Gippsland holds a 100 percent interest in the VIC/P70 block, which is approximately 90km off the East Gippsland Victorian coast, ExxonMobil said in a statement.

Diamond Offshore’s Ocean Monarch semi-submersible drilling rig is drilling the wells, which is expected to take several months.

The company’s chairman Richard Owen said, “The two wells will be drilled in water depths ranging from 350 to 700 meters, amongst the deepest water depths drilled in the Gippsland Basin.”

These wells are targeting gas prospects, with the objective of proving up resources for timely development and contribution to the Australian domestic gas market, he adds.

The A$120 million ($88.2 million)investment in drilling by Esso Deepwater Gippsland is in addition to other recent investments by ExxonMobil Australia in Victoria, including the A$4.5 billion Kipper Tuna Turrum offshore project, the A$1 billion Longford gas conditioning plant and the future development of the West Barracouta gas field.

“ExxonMobil Australia is also actively considering a potential LNG import project to bring additional supply to the east coast gas market,” Owen said.