Polarcus kicks off seismic survey over Melbana’s Beehive prospect

Seismic player Polarcus has begun the acquisition of the Beehive 3D seismic survey offshore Australia for Melbana.

Melbana, formerly known as MEO Australia, said on Tuesday that the Beehive 3D survey, was being acquired by Polarcus using the Polarcus Naila vessel. Polarcus was awarded the contract for the Beehive 3D seismic survey in early June.

Polarcus will acquire some 600 square kilometers of seismic data over the Beehive prospect located in the WA-488-P permit, operated by Melbana, in the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf, 225 kilometers southwest of Darwin.

The Beehive 3D survey is being operated by Australian energy company Santos pursuant to an operations services agreement. The funds are fully provided by Santos and French oil major Total.

According to the company, the acquisition of a new 3D seismic survey over Beehive will provide the potential for further de-risking of the prospect and will facilitate consideration of a preferred location for the Beehive-1 exploration well. Beehive is currently defined only by a tight grid of 2D seismic data.


The two companies financing the survey, Total and Santos, have an option (exercisable together or individually) to acquire a direct 80 percent participating interest in the permit in return for fully funding the costs of all activities until completion of the first well in the WA-488-P permit. If that happens, Melbana retains 20 percent and will be fully carried for the first exploration well.

Beehive is located close to several existing facilities including Ichthys project and Blacktip field and pipeline offering several options for future gas monetization. In the event of a commercial discovery, Melbana will repay carried funding from its share of cash flow from the Beehive field.

Melbana will have no re-payment obligations for such carried funding in the event there is no commercial discovery and development in WA488-P.

According to Melbana, the Beehive prospect is potentially the largest undrilled hydrocarbon prospect in Australia. It is a Carboniferous age 180 square-kilometer isolated carbonate build up with 400 meters of mapped vertical relief, analogous to the giant Tengiz field in the Caspian Basin.

It is located in 40m water depth suitable for a jack-up rig, within 75 kilometers offshore and developable by either FPSO or pipeline to existing infrastructure. This play type is new and undrilled in the Bonaparte Basin with no wells having been drilled to this depth in the basin.

The carbonate reservoir is also interpreted to be the same age as the 2011 Ungani-1 oil discovery in the Canning Basin, which tested at 1,600 bopd demonstrating a high quality reservoir. The company said that Beehive was a much larger buildup than Ungani and had excellent access to the Lower Carboniferous source rock in adjacent depocentres.