Beach Energy plans infill drilling off Australia to meet gas demand

Australian oil and gas company Beach Energy has submitted an Environmental Plan (EP) to the country’s offshore regulator for infill drilling on a field in Commonwealth waters in the Bass Basin, offshore Australia.

The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) has confirmed that Beach Energy submitted this environmental plan on June 3, 2022, proposing to drill a single new infill well in the Yolla Field at a depth of approximately 80 meters under the T/L1 production license in Commonwealth waters, 147 km south of Kilcunda (Victoria) in Bass Strait, Tasmania.

Yolla infill drilling location; Source: Beach Energy

Located offshore between the southern tip of Victoria and the northern margin of Tasmania in the shallow waters of the Bass Strait, the Bass Basin enables the Australian player to extract natural gas from the Yolla field, the carrying it ashore via a 147 kilometer subsea pipeline where it joins the 32 kilometer long gas pipeline to the BassGas processing plant near Lang Lang in Victoria.

Beach Energy has confirmed that it is preparing to further develop the existing Yolla offshore gas field in Bass Strait for “Meeting the continued demand for natural gas in Australia.” To that end, the company submitted this EP to NOPSEMA, explaining that it plans to drill an additional inside well in the existing Yolla field.

Based on the EP, although the well is planned to be drilled from an existing well slot on the Yolla-A platform, the new well is an extended reach well that is expected to primarily intersect the Yolla West target. Beach pointed out in his EP that if the Yolla West target is not commercially viable, the well would be plugged back to a predetermined depth and then diverted to drill towards the Yolla North target.

According to the MOU, the scope of petroleum activities includes MODU positioning, drilling activities, completion activities, plugging and abandonment, surface (rig) piping fabrication and operations support activities. (ships and helicopters).

Additionally, Beach explained that the same drilling method used for the last four Yolla field wells will be used for this well, adding that a mobile jack-up offshore drilling unit (MODU) will be towed into position adjacent to the rig. Yolla to drill the well.

The company advised that the MODU will be towed to the area and put in place using three support vessels, noting that other nearby wells – Yolla 3, 4, 5 and 6 – may be closed before the arrival of the MODU.

The Australian oil and gas company revealed that the specific MODU has not yet been confirmed, however, it is likely that Noble Corporation Noble Tom Prosser a jack-up platform will be used. If not, the company intends to use a MODU with similar capabilities, design and capabilities. According to Noble’s latest fleet status report, the rig is currently under contract with Santos in Australia until November 2022.

Noble Tom Prosser jack-up platform;  Source: Noble Corporation
Noble Tom Prosser jack-up platform; Source: Noble Corporation

Yolla infill drilling activity is expected to commence in the fourth quarter of 2022. It is expected to take approximately 90 to 130 days, depending on the final work schedule and potential operational delays. Beach Energy further stated that these activities are expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2023 subject to operational delays.

Since previous seismic investigations in the area have identified several stacked reservoirs, the proposed infill well will target one or more isolated gas pockets. The drilling of the new well will be carried out from an existing slot available on the Yolla-A platform.

Yolla-A platform;  Source: Beach Energy
Yolla-A platform; Source: Beach Energy

Upon completion of drilling activities, if the well and eventual diversion are deemed viable for future production based on the results of formation evaluation, the well will be permanently plugged and abandoned.

On the other hand, if the target is deemed commercially viable, additional piping and equipment will need to be installed to connect the completed production well to the existing Yolla processing equipment.

Discovered in 1985, the Yolla gas field lies 147km off the south coast of Victoria and the gas and liquids within the field are extracted from a sandstone reservoir more than 3km deep at through four wells via the Yolla-A offshore platform designed for full exploitation. from the central control room of the onshore gas plant in Lang Lang or the offshore control panel on the platform.

Beach Energy explained its intention to drill this infill well saying: “Industry and regulators continue to see a tight gas supply for southeastern Australia. To positively impact declining production from existing fields as reservoirs run out, new gas projects must be undertaken.

The company recently named its interim chief executive officer (CEO) as CEO following a “Extensive international recruitment process” led by the firm’s board of directors and external advisors.

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