No oil pay result makes Empyrean ‘extremely disappointed’ with Chinese well

Following raised hopes of making a light oil discovery thanks to the confirmation of gas clouds through elevated methane levels, AIM-listed oil and gas exploration company Empyrean Energy is disappointed after finding no oil pay in the Jade prospect well, located in Block 29/11 offshore China.

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

After suffering several setbacks leading to delays in spudding the LH 17-2-1 well on the Jade prospect, Empyrean started drilling this well on 10 April 2022 with the China Oilfield Services Limited (COSL)-owned NH9 rig.

Last week, the company felt optimistic after backing up its pre-drill interpretation of seismic data related to the Jade prospect well with drilling results confirming the presence of gas clouds.

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However, this week the expectations and hopes of making a light oil discovery have been quashed by no oil pay zone being intersected after reaching the total depth. The LH 17-2-1 well results show that excellent quality reservoir rocks in the Zhujiang Carbonate target were intersected as expected, Empyrean informed in an update on Monday.

Tom Kelly, Empyrean CEO, stated: “We are extremely disappointed with the results of the well, particularly after conducting a systematic and comprehensive technical analysis followed by running a safe drilling operation.”

The company explained that the interpretation from logging while drilling (LWD) and mud logging equipment indicated no oil pay in the target reservoir. The firm further elaborated that the well reached a final total depth of 2849 metres of measured depth (MD) in Pre-Tertiary granitic formation and the current operations involve the running of wireline logs.

COSL-owned NH9 rig; Source: Nevsky Shipyard

While Empyrean does not expect these wireline logs to change the initial interpretation of no oil pay seen on LWD, the wireline logging tools will now be run following a wiper trip before starting demobilisation operations of the NH9 rig. The company plans to examine and evaluate the gathered data carefully before undertaking other activities on this block or devising a new exploration plan.

“We would like to thank CNOOC for all their support, CNOOC EnerTech for managing a successful operation and COSL for conducting a safe drilling operation. We plan to conduct a thorough analysis of well log data before deciding the next step in Block 29/11,” concluded Kelly.