Bass Strait Oil gets its feet wet and its hands dirty

BASS Strait Oil Company is entering a new phase as it pulls together its huge array of seismic data to underpin drilling in 2008 and beyond, according to managing director Andrew Adams.
Bass Strait Oil gets its feet wet and its hands dirty Bass Strait Oil gets its feet wet and its hands dirty Bass Strait Oil gets its feet wet and its hands dirty Bass Strait Oil gets its feet wet and its hands dirty Bass Strait Oil gets its feet wet and its hands dirty

The Melbourne-based explorer, which listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 2004, was set-up specifically to get in early in a Bass Strait exploration revival, Adams told the Excellence in Upstream Energy Conference in Sydney yesterday.

Up until recently, the region – which was Australia’s premier petroleum province from 1969 until the development of the North West Shelf two decades later – was dominated by the likes of BHP Billiton and ExxonMobil.

But in the past few years, smaller producers and explorers have begun to pick up the relinquished acreage to see whether they can find new commercial oil and gas fields.

BSOC was one of the early ones, and as a result now holds 15,000 square kilometres of acreage spanning the Gippsland, Otway and Bass basins.

The company has a “hands-on technical focus”, and has spent the last couple of years reprocessing existing seismic data, according to Adams. It has also recently concluded a major seismic program using the Western Trident vessel.

“Bass Strait Oil has a strong acreage position and strong regional focus in the three main basins of southeast Australia,” he said.

“It has a good balance of near-term and 'still maturing' drilling opportunities, where there’s also good scope for follow-up drilling.”

BSOC’s most immediate focus is in Vic/p42 where farm-in partner Apache Energy last month finished acquiring a 500-square-kilometre 3D seismic survey.

“The survey was undertaken in an area adjacent to the giant Kingfisher oil field and has turned-up a number of prospects and leads,” Adams said.

“Apache will carry us through the drilling of one exploration well, in return for a 60% interest, in early 2008.”

The company also has high hopes for a new play type, known as the Emperor Sub-Group, which was identified by Nexus Energy’s Longtom-3 appraisal well.

The discovery prompted BSOC to re-evaluate its Judith discovery, which lies on the southern edge of the play in its 40%-owned Vic/P47.

“Technical work shows that Judith exhibits similar structural characteristics to Longtom,” Adams said.

“And the reservoir quality suggests that if we want to commercialise this prospect, we would need to undertake long lateral completions, like what happened at Longtom.”

Adams said the company aimed to secure a rig slot for next year at this location.

Meanwhile, BSOC has said its 2005 3D seismic program over Vic/P41 had mapped several significant oil prospects, while several high potential leads were defined on the old 2D seismic.

As in its other two permits, BSOC has said drilling was unlikely to occur in Vic/P41 before 2008.

But it is the company’s two offshore Tasmanian permits that represents its biggest leap into the unknown.

The company has taken up 100% interest in T/42P and T/43P, which lie north of Launceston and west of Flinders Island and span virtually the whole of the Durroon Sub-basin.

Durroon-1, drilled by Esso in 1973, is the one previous well in the acreage, but it is believed this well only penetrated the shallow section of the sub-basin.

BSOC plans to use re-interpretation and re-mapping as the basis for a new round of 2D seismic to be acquired towards the end of this year or early next, depending on vessel availability.

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