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Lloyds List: Nexus starts Australia exploration campaign with Fossetmaker

Martyn Wingrove,
Published: Aug 16, 2007

NEXUS Energy has started its largest exploration and appraisal drilling campaign to date by probing the Fossetmaker prospect offshore Australia, writes Martyn Wingrove.

The Australian independent is working closely with Anglo-Dutch oil major Shell on this drilling programme to find new hydrocarbon reserves close to existing fields.

It is also developing the Longtom gas field offshore Victoria, with subsea wells tied back to existing platforms and an onshore gas plant.

Nexus’ year-long exploration campaign will involve at least three rigs in three hydrocarbon basins off the northwest and southeastern coasts of the southern continent.

The first well is under way on the Fossetmaker structure in the Browse basin, off Western Australia west of Darwin.

Diamond Offshore’s upgraded semi-submersible rig Ocean Epoch is drilling the well as an appraisal to the Echuca Shoals gas discovery. The field lies east of the large Ichthys gas field, which could be developed as a feed source to a new liquefied natural gas plant.

Nexus’ middle range estimate of Echuca Shoals reserves is 2.2trn cu ft of gas and 135m barrels of condensates. If this field has a high liquids content, then it is likely that the condensates could be produced with a leased floating production system.

Shell is operating the rig and Fossetmaker well, but it sits on Nexus’ permit WA-377.

Also in the Browse basin, Nexus is planning to drill two appraisal wells on the Crux gas-condensate field with Transocean’s semi-submersible rig Sedco 703 early next year.

Crux is in the Ashmore-Cartier block P23 off Northern Territory and could be under development next year.

Nexus and Shell plan to install a leased floating production storage and offloading vessel on Crux to extract the 65m-85m, barrels of liquid hydrocarbons and reinject the gas for a later LNG-based project.

Nexus has asked Viking to examine options for supplying an FPSO to produce the condensate reserves. It plans to use three subsea production and three injection wells on the project. Early options suggest a suezmax tanker could be converted into an FPSO that can store 650,000 barrels of condensates and produce 30,000 barrels per day from mid-2010.

Also off Northern Territory, in the Bonaparte basin, Nexus is lining up an exploration well on the 30m barrel Ruck prospect using Awilco’s jack-up rig Willcraft in the third quarter 2008. In the Gippsland basin, offshore Victoria, Nexus intends to drill one or two wells on the Longtom field using Seadrill’s newbuild jack-up rig West Triton in the second quarter 2008. Pipeline for Longtom is being fabricated in Australia this year and is due to be installed in the first half of next year. Longtom, with 350 petajoules of gas reserves, is due on stream in mid-2008 via the Baleen and Patricia gas plant.

Also in Gippsland basin, Nexus is likely to drill an exploration well on the Bronze Whaler prospect close to Anzon’s Basker oil field with the Kan Tan IV semi-submersible rig in the third quarter of 2008.

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