VicPet about to start 10-well Cooper drilling program

VICTORIA Petroleum has the biggest exploration position in the onshore Cooper Basin spanning South Australia and Queensland, while producing assets in the Cooper, the Perth Basin and Texas are now generating cash flow for the company, managing director John Kopcheff told the Excellence in Upstream Energy conference in Sydney on Tuesday afternoon.
VicPet about to start 10-well Cooper drilling program VicPet about to start 10-well Cooper drilling program VicPet about to start 10-well Cooper drilling program VicPet about to start 10-well Cooper drilling program VicPet about to start 10-well Cooper drilling program

VicPet’s 5% working interest in Jingemia and 40% of Mirage-Ventura in the Cooper Basin will give the company net cash of $8 million by the end of 2006 if development plans are successful, according to Kopcheff.

Meanwhile in South Australia’s Cooper Basin, the company is enjoying gross oil production of 400bpd, which is expected to increase to 1000bpd by the end of 2006.

The company also has 15 exploration and development wells planned in the next six months.

According to independent research firm Aegis, VicPet’s exploration programs in the Cooper and the onshore US are potential “company makers”.

“At Eagle Oil Pool [in California], the appraisal well currently being tested represents a significant opportunity for VicPet to become an established producer in the energy-hungry US," Aegis said.

VicPet will participate in 15 wells over the next six months. The Eagle Oil Pool, Cooper Basin and Reids Dome Gas project offer the most upside potential, according to Aegis.

VicPet has the biggest acreage position in the Cooper-Eromanga Basin with stakes of between 25% and 40% in five permits. where it has maintained an attractive 50% success rate since 2004. The industry-wide success rate is also high - about 45%, so Kopcheff is bullish on the company's chances of success.

"Can VicPet drill 10 wells in a row in the Cooper without making a discovery?" he said.

"Five years ago, I might have said yes," he said, alluding to a previous lack of success that saw him earn the nickname of 'Dryhole John'.

"But based on recent success I am confident we will make some finds."

VicPet will restart its South Australian Cooper Basin drilling program next month with 10 exploration wells.

The Growler and Wirraway wells in PEL 104 are targeting up to 24 million barrels of oil potential.

Two wells in PEL 111, Ascender and Catalina, are targeting up to 9 million barrels and 56 billion cubic feet of gas. One well in PEL 115, Tomcat-1, is targeting up to 16 million barrels of oil.

But it is the Vancouver well, to be drilled in December, that is the most exciting of these prospects, with a target of up to 52mm bbl.

VicPet is currently carrying out production testing of the Eagle North-1 horizontal well, just 366m to the north of the original May Bellocchi-1 discovery well made in 1986.

Successful production testing will lead to an eight-to-nine well development program over the next four years to produce an estimated 18 million barrels of oil and 22bcf of gas.

At Reids Dome in Queensland’s Bowen Basin, VicPet is being free-carried for 40% through the current drilling program following a farm-in by White Sand Petroleum.

VicPet had previously sat on a 100% interest in the acreage since 1985 where a 1954 well discovered shallow gas and deeper drilling showed numerous oil and gas shows. VicPet drilled an appraisal well in 1993 and successfully tested 1.2 million cubic feet a day and proved up 2bcf, but it was deemed uneconomic at prevailing gas prices.

The latest program by White Sand Petroleum will include a 2600m well to test the previous oil and gas shows with potential to contain up to 309bcf of gas. Fifteen bcf would be the commercial threshold in this part of Queensland, he said.

Drilling is also due to start soon at the Banff-1 (35%) well in ATP-794 in southwest Queensland – an area that has been overlooked for drilling in the past 10 years because of native title access problems.

With those problems now sorted, VicPet and partner Bow Energy are targeting 34 million barrels of oil with provisional plans for four follow-up wells depending on the success.

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