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Rig Woes Plague Conoco-Karoon Drilling Program Offshore WA

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ConocoPhillips and Karoon Gas will see the project timeline of their five-well exploration program in the Greater Poseidon area, offshore Western Australia, pushed back due to a spate of blowout preventer problems on their contracted rig – Transocean Legend (mid-water semisub) – a spokesperson representing Karoon Gas told Rigzone in an interview Friday.

The rig was drilling the Zephyros-1 exploration well – the second well in the JV's five-well exploration program – in November, when works had to be unexpectedly halted due to a reoccurrence of a blowout preventer problem. The spokesperson confirmed that although mechanical repairs on Transocean Legend are already completed, the JV's drilling project timeline had been negatively affected.

ConocoPhillips and Karoon Gas had first encountered a problem with the rig's blowout preventer when it was drilling on the JV's first exploration well – Boreas-1 – which was spud in May this year. The Transocean Legend had shortly after, experienced a mechanical failure with its blowout preventer, and drilling works on Boreas-1 was subsequently halted for more than two months to allow for repair works to take place. The JV only managed to resume drilling at Boreas-1 in mid-August.

"We are disappointed with the performance of the rig, but we do not have an alternative at this point. All available offshore rigs have already been booked up until the end of next year," the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson also added that crew on the rig are affected as it means that the workers will have to be out at sea for a longer period of time.

The five wells that the JV have scheduled for drilling lie in the WA-314-P, WA-315-P and WA-398-P Browse Basin permits, containing the previously announced Poseidon and Kronos gas discoveries. Karoon Gas holds a 40 percent stake in WA-315-P and WA-398-P, and a 90 percent stake in WA-314-P. ConocoPhillips, the operator, holds the remaining stakes in the three permits.

The three permits are around 217 miles (350 kilometers) offshore from the northwestern Australian coast and cover a combined area of 3,022 square miles (7,828 square kilometers), Karoon Gas' quarterly report published in June stated.

"The Browse Basin drilling campaign is expected to continue for a period of up to two years. The program is designed to define more precisely the size and quality of the contingent gas resource base," Karoon Gas said in its June quarterly report.

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