Australian operator Santos is planning to drill a wildcat targeting the Dancer gas and condensate prospect within close proximity of its Reindeer field offshore Western Australia.

The regulator, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (Nopsema), is reviewing Santos’ Environmental Plan (EP) for the Dancer-1 exploration well located on the WA-1-P permit, which is scheduled to be spudded in the fourth quarter.


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The Dancer-1 well will target a gas reservoir in the Legendre formation. Water depth at the prospect, which has a prognosed total depth of approximately 3604 metres, is around 63 metres.

Nopsema said that the drilling activity would be carried out by a jack-up rig with up to four support vessels and helicopters.

A sidetrack or re-spud is not planned although it is included as a contingency. The EP under review encompasses drilling activities and all rig, vessel and helicopter operations within a 2 kilometre x 2 kilometre square operational area.

Drilling activities are planned for approximately 30 days. However, contingency of up to 75 days is provided to account for unfavourable weather, additional drilling – such as a re-spud - or operational challenges, noted Nopsema.

The well will only use water-based drilling fluids and no well testing to surface is planned. Downhole formation evaluation will be performed which may include wireline logging, vertical seismic profiling and coring.

Santos plans to plug and abandon the Dancer probe for which the EP remains valid until the end of 2022.

The drilling activity will also be supported by ROV operations and helicopter operations used primarily for crew change and medevac, and occasionally equipment and material transfers. Helicopter flights will occur at least three times a week depending on progress of the drilling programme and logistics constraints.

Santos holds 100% operated interest in the WA-1-P permit.

The company is the largest producer of domestic gas in Western Australia and has been operating in the west since its first offshore discovery in the Carnarvon Basin in the early 1980s.

Domestic gas production and sales increased in the fourth quarter of 2020, reflecting strong contract and spot demand, according to Santos that currently supplies approximately 45% of Western Australia’s domestic gas requirements.

Also offshore Western Australia, pre-front engineering and design work continues for Santos’ Dorado project with FEED entry planned for the first half of 2021 and the final investment decision in the first half of 2022 for the Phase 1 oil project.

Further technical definition across both the floating production, storage and offloading vessel and the wellhead platform is being completed with key contractors, Santos said earlier this month.

Regulatory approvals to support the offshore project proposal and field development plan are also being advanced.

Seismic processing has identified a number of exploration opportunities in close proximity to Dorado. The Pavo and Apus opportunities have been high graded as material tie-back development opportunities and are being progressed for drilling in late 2021/early 2022.

Meanwhile, the Ningaloo Vision FPSO that exploits Santos’ Van Gogh and associated oilfields is expected back on station in the first quarter of 2021 as planned following scheduled maintenance at Sembcorp Marine in Singapore. Production is due to recommence around the end of the quarter.

First oil production from the phase two infill drilling project on the Van Gogh field is still expected in late 2021, added Santos.