Empire shot 2D seismic data across its EP187 permit in the Beetaloo, confirming two major shale targets extended to the north of Santos' big budget Tamburini-1 appraisal well.
Empire told the market today it had completed processing and interpretation of the 231km 2D seismic set across its 100%-owned acreage and had combined the data with open files from the NT Geological Survey.
The combined data confirms an eastern extension of the Beetaloo Sub-Basin into EP187, containing both the highly prospective Velkerri and Kyalla shales.
Empire managing director Alex Underwood said the thickness of the Kyalla and Velkerri exceeded company expectations and opened an additional liquids-rich play for exploration.
"Our seismic program combined with historic open file seismic data demonstrates that the Velkerri Shale in our EP187 tenement is on trend and continuous with our neighbor Santos which has recently announced encouraging initial flow rates from the existing vertical well Tanumbirini-1," Underwood said.
Empire plans to drill an exploration well this year, once the dry season returns to the region.
The two shales have attracted the attention of big players Origin Energy and Santos which consider the region extremely commercial south of Empire's permit.
It also said the shales were much shallower than previous exploration wells across the Beetaloo.
This morning Underwood said Empire would use information from Santos' upcoming drill results to gain a better understanding of the two shales.
This could help in the design of its proposed well later in the year. Potentially Empire could look to drill a second well in its permit during the dry season.
"With planning and approvals for our exploration drilling program targeting the Velkerri and Kyalla well advanced and fully funded, and our priority drilling location de-risked, we are well placed to execute our 2020 exploration drilling program," Underwood said.
Empire's SL-4 is expected to drill to a total depth of 2500m intersecting more approximately 500m of Velkerri shale.
It will also intersect the secondary target, the Kyalla Shale, which is estimated to be around 100m thick.
In total Empire holds 14.5 million acres across the McArthur and Beetaloo Sub-Basins in northern Australia.
The company's shares jumped 7% on the announcement. Empire was trading at over 41 cents per share. It has a market cap of $101 million.