A much-anticipated exploration drilling campaign will start imminently offshore Western Australia as Santos prepares to spud the first of two big prospects near the Dorado oilfield.

The jack-up drilling rig Noble Tom Prosser is mobilising to the Pavo-1 well location in Block WA-438-P, with drilling to start this week, according to joint venture partner Carnarvon Energy.

Carnarvon estimates Pavo has the potential to contain a gross mean recoverable resource of 82 million barrels of liquids and 108 billion cubic feet of gas.

The Pavo-1 well is targeting a prospect with the same reservoir type and trap style as the proven Dorado oil, gas and condensate field, which is under development.

After drilling the primary Caley target, the joint venture has the option to drill into deeper stratigraphy including the Lower Archer Formation Dumont Member sands, and the Permian carbonates.

Information from these intervals will be used to assess the substantial exploration potential north and east of the Pavo prospect.

Following completion of Pavo-1, the same joint venture will move the same rig to drill the nearby larger Apus-1 prospect.

Carnarvon chief executive Adrian Cook said: “The Carnarvon team are excited to be undertaking this next phase of exploration drilling in the Bedout sub-basin.

"Targets like Pavo are highly attractive, from an economic and time to develop perspective, given their potential to utilise the nearby Dorado facilities.

"The Dorado development is currently in the advanced engineering and design stage with a joint venture final investment secision expected to occur later this year. Once FID is achieved, construction of the Dorado production facilities can commence.

3D seismic

Meanwhile, the same joint venture has begun a second phase of 3D seismic acquisition in the Greater Dorado area.

Carnarvon said the Keraudren Extension phase two (KE2) 3D seismic acquisition project began in the past weekend.

KE2 will cover 650 aquare kilometres and fills in the northern area of the Keraudren Extension survey, which was initially acquired in mid 2021.

After phase two is completed, the joint venture will have obtained the full 3260 square kilometres of the Keraudren Extension survey focused on Block WA-436-P.

The new 3D seismic data is expected to enable the joint venture to better understand the eastern extent of the Triassic play system proved successful in the Dorado field.

The Shearwater Geoservices GeoCoral vessel is being used to acquire the KE2.

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