Illustration; Source: Baron Oil

Operator closing in on environmental stamp of approval for drilling ops off Timor-Leste

UK-based and AIM-listed oil and gas company Baron Oil has reached the first of three steps in securing environmental approvals for the drilling and testing of an appraisal well at a block offshore Timor-Leste. All gas export options are still on the table in case of a successful drilling campaign, thus, gas development options will continue to be mulled over.

Illustration; Source: Baron Oil

According to Baron Oil, its subsidiary, SundaGas – as the operator of a block containing the Chuditch field, known as the TL-SO-19-16 PSC or the Chuditch PSC – has come closer to securing environmental approvals for the drilling and testing of an appraisal well on the field, thanks to the Timor-Leste government regulator for oil and gas, Autoridade Nacional do Petróleo (ANP), which issued a project classification following its assessment of the project document that describes the asset and project plan.

Therefore, ANP has now asked SundaGas to proceed to the next step in the process, which is the submission of terms of reference, including initial public consultations. The government of Timor Leste signed a production sharing contract (PSC) with Sunda Gas and Timor Gap for the block containing the Chuditch discovery in November 2019. The TL-SO-19-16 license is situated in the south of the former joint petroleum development area with Australia which has transitioned to Timor-Leste exclusive jurisdiction following a maritime border treaty in August 2019.

Andy Butler, Baron Oil’s Director Asia Pacific, commented: “Baron thanks ANP for the swift evaluation of our first phase environmental documentation for the Chuditch-2 well, and for the excellent collaboration in all of our discussions, including the recent drilling planning workshop. We greatly appreciate the support we receive from the Timor-Leste Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, ANP and Timor Gap in relation to the Chuditch-2 appraisal well, planned for late 2024, and onwards to the future development of Chuditch gas resources.”

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Furthermore, Baron Oil confirms that progress has been made in preparation for the drilling campaign. To this end, SundaGas, its joint venture partner, Timor Gap Chuditch Unipessoal, and ANP recently held the first of several planned workshops to collaborate on planning for drilling operations. During this workshop, all aspects of the preliminary operational plans were reviewed, including provisional well designs, detailed procurement procedures, and health, safety, and environmental planning. The next one is slated for mid-December 2023.

“SundaGas is seeking to maximize Timor-Leste local content in the provision of drilling support services for the planned Chuditch-2 appraisal well. An experienced Timorese drilling engineer has been recruited to join the SundaGas well operations team, and expressions of interest are being sought from in-country suppliers to provide services from the Timorese private sector, including in the areas of marine and helicopter logistics, fuel and consumables,” outlined the company.

Moreover, Baron continues to evaluate all potential options for gas export from the Chuditch field to fast-track the concept selection processes anticipated following success at the Chuditch-2 appraisal well. The company underlines that no decisions on future concept selection can be taken until the Chuditch-2 appraisal drilling results have been evaluated and in full collaboration with Timor Gap as joint venture partner in the Chuditch PSC, ANP and the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources of the government of Timor-Leste.

Located approximately 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 approximately 3,571 km2, in water depths of 50-100 m, and contains the Chuditch-1 gas discovery drilled by Shell in 1998.