Beetaloo hopes boosted by Origin's preliminary results

ORIGIN Energy has released updated analysis of its Kyalla-117 appraisal well campaign in one of Australia’s most exciting emerging gas and liquids plays, the Beetaloo Sub-basin.
Beetaloo hopes boosted by Origin's preliminary results Beetaloo hopes boosted by Origin's preliminary results Beetaloo hopes boosted by Origin's preliminary results Beetaloo hopes boosted by Origin's preliminary results Beetaloo hopes boosted by Origin's preliminary results

Paul Hunt

Senior Journalist: Energy & Commodities

Paul Hunt

On Wednesday, Origin announced preliminary data collected from the big budget well showed mature hydrocarbons and good permeability, and mud logs had indicated a liquids rich gas resource. 

Origin is the operator of three exploration permits, EP76, EP98, and EP117, in the Beetaloo with a 77.5% interest alongside its smaller Dublin-based joint venture partner Falcon Oil & Gas (22.5%). 

The venture drilled its Kyalla-117 well in the EP117 permit to a total depth of 3809 metres with a 1579 lateral section in February. 

Now the preliminary results, following an extensive fraccing and flowback program in October, are starting to trickle through.

Earlier this month Origin installed production tubing down the well and flowback rate was about 500 barrels a day. 

However, according to Origin Energy's general manager for Beetaloo exploration, Tracey Boyes, who released an update on the operations on Wednesday, the well had greater pressures than in the reservoir. 

Boyes said this was due to the saline content and density of the flowback fluid.

"It is not unusual in shale plays for the salinity and density of the flowback fluid to increase as salt easily migrates from the surrounding formation," she said. 

Origin is now looking to introduce nitrogen to lift the fluids in the well and lower pressures to achieve a gas breakthrough. 

Boyes stressed this was a "common technique" and had been carried out at Origin's earlier exploration well Amungee-NW-1H back in 2016.

The well, which successfully flowed at 1.1 million cubic feet per day over almost two months from the Velkerri B Shale, defined a potential gas-in-place of 61 trillion cubic feet within an area covering 1968 square kilometres across Origin's three permits.

In the short-term work will continue onsite focussing on optimising flowback from the well while planning for the introduction of nitrogen. 

According to Boyes, Origin is planning to introduce nitrogen in early 2021 following the wet season. However, Origin is also weighing up shutting-in the well. 

The Kyalla-117 well has been viewed as a litmus test of sorts, to prove the commerciality of the Beetaloo frontier basin. Consultancy EnergyQuest put the well on its "watch list" last year, meanwhile the NT government heralded it as a "new era" for Australia's domestic gas production. 

The Beetaloo has attracted vast interest since the NT lifted its fraccing moratorium. The basin has been compared to the Marcellus and Eagleford shales in the US, the two most prominent shale gas deposits in the country. 

Origin's successful fraccing program and confirmation of liquids-rich gas builds on the momentum in the Beetaloo over recent weeks. 

There are about three major players in the NT onshore region currently. ASX-listed Empire Energy recently struck liquids while it was searching for dry gas at its Carpentaria-1 exploration well in the Beetaloo.  

Santos and Origin have both also made commercial discoveries at their respective wells to the west of Empire's fields.

Earlier this week a report from EY published by the Australian Petroleum Production Exploration Association, showed that the Beetaloo and McArthur Basins could save the Northern Territory's economy in the wake of the COVID-19 induced downturn.  

The report found serious development within the Beetaloo and other areas including onshore New South Wales and offshore Western Australia, could be worth hundreds of billions for the national economy and create nearly a quarter of a million new jobs.