Santos' Norfolk-1 Well Could Be Big

The Norfolk wildcat oil well off the coast of Western Australia could hold up to 70 million barrels of oil. The well, located in the Carnarvon Basin, has encountered a gross 30 meter oil column with excellent reservoir sands. The well is located near the Woodisde-operted Legendre field that, along with other nearby petroleum infrastructures, greatly enhances its viability.

A Santos spokesman said that the oil find needs to be evaluated by pressure testing over the next few days. "But initial indications are that it could be a commercial discovery," he said. Santos intends to complete pressure testing inside a week, and then start drilling the step-out Exeter well that is likely to take between 24 and 30 days to reach the target depth.

If it strikes oil, Exeter could be tied into a potential development at Norfolk, alongside earlier noncommercial oil discoveries at Pitcairn and Mutineer, the spokesman added. Santos' pre-drilling estimate of 110 million barrels refers to the entire geological structure, rather than a specific estimate for Norfolk. "But if Exeter is successful and the hydrocarbon accumulations are connected, then those sorts of numbers aren't unrealistic," the spokesman said.

Santos is operator of Norfolk-1 in WA-191-P block and holds a 33.4% stake. Other participants are ExxonMobil with 33.4%, Nippon Oil Exploration Pty. Ltd. 25% and Woodside Petroleum Ltd. with 8.2%.