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Australia: Melbana Energy announces changes to Australian exploration permits

12 Feb 2024

Photo - see caption


  • The primary term work conditions for WA-544-P and NT/P87 (Melbana 100%) have been suspended for 18 months and the terms of the Permits similarly extended by 18 months(1).
  • These offshore Permits are in the Bonaparte Gulf in northern Australia immediately adjacent to WA-488-P, containing the giant Beehive prospect - also a carbonate buildup – expected to be drilled by the holder of that permit (a US oil major) in 2024/2025(2).
  • The Permits host a carbonate build up called the Hudson Prospect along with the undeveloped Turtle and Barnett oil discoveries.
  • Melbana estimates(3) the unrisked mean Prospective Resources for the Hudson Prospect to be:
    • Oil Only Scenario: 395 million barrels of oil
    • Gas Only Scenario: 2,034 billion cubic feet(4)

Melbana Energy has announced that the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA) has approved an 18-month suspension of the primary term work program conditions and an extension of the permit terms of WA-544-P and NT/P87 (Permits). The changes to the terms of the Permits are as follows:

  1. Suspend the Permit Year 1 - 3 work program conditions of the Permits for a period of 18 months to 23 May 2025; and
  2. Extend the term of the Permits for a period of 18 months to 23 May 2028.

Melbana now has until 23 May 2025 to complete geological and geotechnical studies, including seismic interpretation and operational planning, before deciding whether to progress to acquire 700 km 2 of new 3D seismic by 23 May 2026. Should it elect to do so, Melbana would then have a drill / drop decision to drill two exploration wells by 23 May 2028.

The Permits host the attractive Hudson prospect, which has been identified by the Company as an isolated carbonate build up. Isolated carbonate build ups host some of the world’s largest oil reservoirs, but is an untested play type in Australia. The first exploration well to do so, designated Beehive-1, will be drilled in the adjacent licence area WA-488-P, scheduled to be as early as this year.

Melbana identified the Beehive prospect and subsequently sold WA-488-P to a US oil major in 2021. That company recently received approval to conduct a geotechnical survey on the Beehive drill site, a first step on drilling the prospect. Melbana has no exposure to the cost of a Beehive exploration well but has contingent cash and royalty interests, following a successful exploration well.

Photo - see caption

The Permits are in shallow water (20 to 40 metres deep) and located about 300 kilometres southwest of Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory.

The Blacktip gas field lies to the northwest and its pipeline transects the northern boundary of NT/P87, allowing potential access to the Darwin LNG facility and/or the east coast gas market.

The Hudson prospect holds the potential to contain 395 million barrels of oil or 2,034 bcf of gas (Mean Prospective Resources (100%)(3). The Prospective Resources were based on a probabilistic assessment with a 12% estimate for the chance of hydrocarbons. The Company is not aware of any new information or data that materially affects this estimate.

Melbana intends to farmout some of its 100% interest in the licence areas to fund the acquisition of a 3D seismic survey to further derisk the prospect.

A copy of the technical presentation Melbana is using during the farmout process is available on the Company’s website.

(1) See ASX announcement dated 26 November 2020

(2) See ASX announcement dated 24 November 2021

(3) See ASX announcement dated 4 July 2023

(4) Conversion factor: 6 BCF = 1 MMBOE

Original announcement link

Source: Melbana Energy

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