Illustration; Source: Baron Oil

UK oil & gas firm eyes start of drilling ops off Timor-Leste in late 2024

UK-based and AIM-listed oil and gas company Baron Oil is planning to kick off the drilling of an appraisal well at a block offshore Timor-Leste in late 2024.

Illustration; Source: Baron Oil

Back in November 2019, the government of Timor Leste signed a production sharing contract (PSC) with Sunda Gas and Timor Gap for a block containing the Chuditch discovery, known as the TL-SO-19-16 PSC or the Chuditch PSC. 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.

On Friday, June 2, 2023, Baron Oil revealed that its subsidiary, SundaGas, as the operator of the Chuditch PSC, was granted a further six-month extension for the contract year two of the PSC by the Autoridade Nacional do Petróleo e Minerais (ANPM). This will expire on 18 December 2023, with a subsequent commitment, on entry into contract year three, for the drilling of one well to appraise the Chuditch-1 discovery.

On September 25, 2023, the company announced its Interim Results, which advised on the preferred drilling location for an appraisal well on the Chuditch gas field. Following up on this on Wednesday, October 11, 2023, Baron published its investor presentation, illustrating the location in detail, along with the well location selection criteria used, the approaches for de-risking candidate locations, basic well design information, and updates on the status of drilling planning.

According to the UK player, the chosen location, approximately 4.8 km from the Chuditch-1 discovery well, represents a substantial step-out, demonstrating the size of the field and the company’s confidence in the quality of the reprocessed seismic datasets. The firm anticipates that the Chuditch-2 appraisal well will use a simple vertical well design to target a gas column of over 100 meters, relative to the 30-meter column discovered at Chuditch-1 in 1998.

Baron expects to drill a Chuditch-2 appraisal well in late 2024, subject to drill financing. This will be undertaken using a jack-up drilling rig. The well is expected to take around 21 days to drill, with a further 15 days assumed for logging and a drill stem test. The water depth at the proposed Chuditch-2 location is 60 meters and the well would be drilled to 3,020 meters below mean sea level.

Moreover, the company explains that improved subsurface imaging from the reprocessed 3D seismic data permits a vertical well design, which is operationally simpler and more cost-efficient. The well is planned to penetrate the Plover Formation reservoir at least 500 meters from the Chuditch fault on the southeast side of the field, mitigating location risk from fault imaging uncertainty.

In relation to drilling planning, Baron has recruited a Well Operations Manager and scheduled planning workshops with government regulator ANP and joint venture partner TIMOR GAP. The firm is also in discussions with other regional operators to identify potential logistical and operational cost-saving synergies and has submitted first-phase documentation to ANP for environmental permits. 

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.