Illustration; Source: Baron Oil

New drilling location picked for next well on gas field offshore Timor-Leste

SundaGas Banda Unipessoal, a wholly owned subsidiary of the UK-based and AIM-listed Baron Oil, has selected a new drilling location for an appraisal well at a gas field off the coast of Timor-Leste, thanks to the site survey work, which the company recently wrapped up.

Illustration; Source: Baron Oil

SundaGas conducted a site survey work, consisting of geophysical studies or remote seabed investigation and geotechnical work – physical studies of the seabed – using two separate vessels, at the initially planned drilling location for the Chuditch-2 appraisal well to identify hazards at the proposed well site, ensuring that a drilling rig could be mobilized safely and with minimal environmental impact.

While some delays occurred during both the geophysical and geotechnical phases of the survey, principally caused by weather conditions and a few other operational issues, the work has now been completed and the vessel has left the Chuditch production sharing contract (PSC), also known as TL-SO-19-16 PSC and Chuditch PSC area. The operator explains that the site survey has been done at a cost significantly below the approved budget.

After the detailed investigation of the location initially chosen for the Chuditch-2 well revealed an irregular seabed that would be unsuitable for the placement of a jack-up drilling rig, SundaGas has picked a new location, which lies 286 meters to the east-northeast of the initial location. As the new proposed location was verified through geotechnical studies in the second phase of the site survey, it is now considered final, thus, the well will now be situated 5.1 km from the site of the original Chuditch-1 discovery well in a water depth of 68 m.

Furthermore, the planned vertical appraisal well to be drilled at this new location is expected to encounter gas-charged reservoirs 16 m shallower than at the initial location based on 3D seismic mapping and the results of Chuditch-1. As a result, the operator has predicted a taller 149 m gas column in the reservoir target versus 133 m predicted at the initial location.

Moreover, the company has continued with drilling planning, with its in-house drill team further refining the well design, enabling the start of the tendering process for essential materials with long procurement times such as well casing. The design work on a Chuditch-2 well test (DST), which is led by SundaGas’ well test engineer, is ongoing. 

Currently, the company is not only engaged in discussions with drilling rig contractors and other third-party service providers in support of well construction plans but is also liaising closely with other operators in the region that plan to drill wells in locations relatively nearby.

While detailed workshops are being held regularly with the firm’s joint venture partner, Timor Gap, and government regulator ANP, the JV is also working on resources to ensure the delivery of the upcoming Chuditch-2 appraisal drilling campaign. To this end, talks with several potential funding partners are ongoing.

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Dr Andy Butler, Baron Oil’s Chief Executive Officer, commented: “The successful completion of the site survey, leading to the selection of an improved drilling target location with optimal seabed conditions, is another key milestone towards drilling the Chuditch-2 appraisal well. We look forward to providing further announcements on the Chuditch project, including with respect to well planning, execution and drill funding, at the appropriate times.

The current timeline indicates that the well will be drilled and flow tested in late 2024, subject to rig and drilling services availability and the completion of drill financing. The TL-SO-19-16 license is situated in the south of the former joint petroleum development area with Australia, which transitioned to Timor-Leste exclusive jurisdiction following a maritime border treaty in August 2019.

Located about 185 km south of Timor-Leste, 100 km east of the producing Bayu-Undan field, and 50 km south of the Greater Sunrise potential development, the Chuditch PSC covers an area of about 3,571 km2, in water depths of 50-100 m, and contains the Chuditch-1 gas discovery drilled by Shell in 1998.