If successful, and gas is discovered, the economic benefits for New South Wales electricity consumers could be significant. Bounty is excited at being the first company to explore in this area.
NSW Petroleum Exploration Permit (PEP) 11 is located in the Offshore Sydney Basin, off the New South Wales coast between Wollongong and Port Stephens. The permit is 200 km long and an average of 50 km wide and is situated in Commonwealth waters. It covers the entire offshore sector of the basin.
PEP 11 was granted in 1999. To obtain the permit the government required Bounty to commit to a work program that included the acquisition of new seismic data in the primary term and, in the secondary term, to drill one well.
Although there have been over 2,400 wells drilled offshore Australia, no exploration drilling has ever taken place in the offshore Sydney Basin. Our proposed well, Biggus-1, will be the first well to test this basin.
Since Bounty began exploring in the permit, we have reprocessed and reinterpreted existing aeromagnetic and seismic data, undertaken Landsat satellite studies and recently, to further improve our mapping, acquired 1460 km of new seismic data.
Our work has led us to an area approximately 25 km south-east of Newcastle, where a large structural feature has been mapped around 1500 meters below the sea-bed. We believe this prospect, named "Biggus", has the potential to hold over 1.2 Trillion cubic feet (TCF) of gas (enough to supply the Sydney market for over 10 years). A discovery of this magnitude would be a great thing for New South Wales as the state has no indigenous gas supplies and has to import its gas from interstate.
Based on this work, and in accordance with its obligations to the government, Bounty now intends to drill an exploration well at Biggus to confirm (or otherwise) the presence and possible extent of the gas. It is worth noting that despite all of our work, and the considerable expense it has entailed, drilling for gas in an untested basin is still a risky venture.
We are now progressing our plans to drill the exploration well. We are processing our new seismic data and expect to have updated maps in the near future. Based on the finalised maps we will select the optimum drilling location for the well. At this time, no specific location has been determined.
In the meantime, we have completed an assessment of the potential environmental impacts of the drilling operations – a draft Environmental Plan has been submitted to the government. We have also identified the likely rig we will use (the "Ocean Patriot"). The current scheduling suggests we will be able to drill in May 2005.
Most Popular Articles