Rockhopper shrugs off dry Falklands well

Rockhopper Exploration’s latest well in the offshore North Falkland basin was dry.

Offshore staff

LONDON -- Rockhopper Exploration’s latest well in the offshore North Falkland basin was dry.

The 26/6-1 exploration well on the Ernest prospect, drilled by the semisub Ocean Guardian, was drilled 120 km (74 mi) from the company’s Sea Lion oil discovery, but testing a different play type from the one proven at Sea Lion.

It encountered good quality sands with high porosity and permeability, but no hydrocarbons, according to initial logs.

Rockhopper will perform detailed post-well studies of all data and information gathered from the well, with samples due to be sent to the UK for analysis in a specialist laboratory. 

“The result of Ernest is disappointing, but the well was always designed to investigate an entirely different geological play type from Sea Lion, to which our focus now turns…," said Sam Moody, managing director,

“Following completion of the Ernest well, we intend to re-enter the well on Sea Lion that we suspended on May 19, and perform a flow test to allow us to gather the data required in order to design fully our appraisal program and give us an early indication of the production potential of the reservoir sands.

“A full re-interpretation of the 3D seismic data in licences PL032 and PL033 is currently taking place. This will allow us to select a number of additional exploration prospects and possible appraisal locations for the Sea Lion discovery. In the new high grading of exploration prospects we will focus on identifying features that exhibit the same or similar seismic characteristics to those found at the Sea Lion discovery location.”

Moody added that Rockhopper was fully funded to complete the Ernest well and the initial flow test on Sea Lion, and to pay its 15% share of two further wells which operator Desire Petroleum plans to drill on North Falkland licenses PL003 and PL004.

“We are in the unusually strong position of holding a 100% interest in a significant acreage position with a discovery that we believe opens a new play fairway on that acreage. The Sea Lion prospect lies within license PL032 and under the terms of that license we are required to submit a field development plan within three years of spudding the discovery well that subsequently leads to the declaration of a discovery area," he said. 

“Geographically, we intend to maintain our focus on developing our existing acreage and continuing to work with the Falkland Islands Government in doing so. The main challenge will continue to be the logistics around operating in a frontier area but with proper planning and the goodwill of all the key stakeholders we are confident that any issues can be resolved.”

Falklands Oil & Gas, another London-based independent, used the same rig to drill the Toroa F61/5-1 exploration well in the East Falklands basin. This too was plugged and abandoned last month as a dry hole.

The company says it is conducting a detailed evaluation of all data amassed from the well and will update the results following completion of the analysis.

It remains on the look-out for another rig to explore the deeper water areas of its licenses. With competition currently stiff for higher-spec deepwater rigs, the exploration program will likely be extended into 2011.


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