Disappointment for frontier drillers offshore Ireland, UK

Sept. 11, 2017
The drillship Stena IceMAX is P&A’ing the ultra-deepwater Drombeg exploration well offshore southwest Ireland, which encountered a porous water-bearing reservoir at the targeted interval.

Offshore staff

LONDON/DUBLIN, Ireland – The drillshipStena IceMAX is P&A’ing the ultra-deepwater Drombeg exploration well offshore southwest Ireland, which encountered a porous water-bearing reservoir at the targeted interval.

Providence Resources operated the well in frontier exploration license (FEL) 2/14 in the southern Porcupine basin, in partnership with Capricorn Ireland and Sosina Exploration.

On July 11, the drillship spudded the 53/6-1 well in around 2,233 m (7,326 ft) of water and roughly 220 km (137 mi) offshore. The well reached a final TD of 5,281 m (17,326 ft) MDBRT, having penetrated the north flank of the Lower Cretaceous Drombeg prospect.

Analysis of drill cuttings within the Drombeg reservoir interval suggests the possible presence of bitumen, potentially a sign of an oil charge that was not retained at this location. However, further studies will be needed to confirm this interpretation and the implications for the wider prospectivity within the license.

After completing P&A operations the drillship will be demobilized from Irish waters.

Tony O’Reilly, CEO of Providence, said: “The 53/6-1 well results at the Drombeg level are disappointing and we will now assess these well data in order to understand what implications they have for prospectivity within the license including in the underlying pre-Cretaceous Diablo prospect together with other anomalies within FEL 2/14.

“Frontier exploration requires perseverance and we look forward to seeing the outcome of exploration wells planned for acreage proximate to FEL 2/14, which will test plays similar to Diablo and to those which have proved to be successful in the conjugate Flemish Pass basin, offshore Canada.”

“53/6-1 is situated in the deepest water of any exploration well ever drilled offshore Ireland and is an important operational milestone for Providence, being our first harsh environment ultra-deepwater well operation… we remain well funded for our forward drilling operations offshore Ireland, with Barryroe [in the Celtic Sea] being planned as our next well in this program.”

In the UK central North Sea, Azinor Catalyst’s 14/11a-2 well on thePartridge prospect has also been P&A’d after failing to deliver hydrocarbons. This was one of various wildcats this summer designed to open or confirm new exploration plays on the UK continental shelf.

The rig is currently being demobilized having been on contract for 27 days. Next up for Catalyst will be an appraisal well to test the Agar discovery and Plantain prospect in 2Q 2018, to allow time to analyze the results of Apache’s forthcoming Titan exploration well on the same play in an adjacent block.

Nick Terrell, Catalyst’s managing director, said: “While we are disappointed with the result of the Partridge well, the very high quality sandstones which we encountered in the target reservoir both reinforces our geological model and de-risks key elements of the wider play, which we captured through the recent UK 29th Round.”

Henry Morris, technical director, added: “Reservoir was one of the key risks for Partridge, but now that we have a better handle on this, along with its seismic signature, we are well-positioned to progress de-risking the wider potential of the Lower Cretaceous play – find the sands and the oil will follow.

“We continue to believe that there is huge potential both on and off the license, a previously underexplored area. Critical information that we have gained, such as reservoir insights, greatly aid our future exploration of the area, in particular on our new licenses to the north-east: P2316 and P2317.”

Statoil’s potentially high-impact 20/05b-13 exploration well on theVerbier prospect in blocks 20/05b and 21/1d, again in the UK central sector, has reached the planned TD of 4,267 m (14,000 ft).

According to partner Jersey Oil & Gas, the well encountered water- bearing Upper Jurassic sands, deeper than anticipated. A decision on whether to drill a side track will follow evaluation of wireline logs, otherwise the well will be P&A’d.

CEO Andrew Benitz commented: “In light of the Verbier result, the company will now update its evaluation of the P.2170 license acreage and consider the possible implications for the Cortina prospect, which remains an independent and prospective Upper Jurassic target.”