Australian junior Melbana Energy has uncovered more promising signs in its maiden Cuban exploration well as it also starts turning its attention to the second well in the campaign on the Block 9 production sharing contract.

Melbana revealed Tuesday the onshore Alameda-1 exploration well had reached a depth of 1842 metres and encountered an “increasingly strong influx of gas with some oil”.

It then made the decision to implement flaring procedures to manage the influx while mud weight was increased to suppress it.

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However, as no testing equipment was used, Melbana said it could not yet confirm the proportions of oil and gas nor the flow rate, but added the results so far indicated at least two intervals in the well’s secondary objective warranted “closer examination”.

Melbana chairman Andrew Purcell said that electric logging had been brought forward from the original plan, while noting that the two main primary targets in the well had yet to be reached.

“Exploration drilling often provides unexpected results and thus requires flexible responses,” Purcell said.

“Whilst drilling has not progressed as far as we had projected this past week, this was due to encountering a higher-pressure zone earlier than we expected. The gas and oil influx into the well bore (following the earlier significant thickness of reported good to excellent oil shows) provides even more encouragement regarding this shallow part of the well.”

The promising well results come after Melbana last week revealed the Alameda-1 well had intersected 670 metres of oil shows, having already reported encountering oil at a shallower depth than initially expected.

The exploration well is looking to test three separate targets with a combined prospective resource of 141 million barrels of oil.

Alameda-1 is targeting the same structure drilled in the late 1980s by Cuban state-run company Cupet at the Marti-5 well, which recorded oil shows over an 850-metre gross interval.

Melbana also confirmed Tuesday that the first tier well pad for the next well in its Cuban campaign, Zapato-1, had been completed, with work now commencing on the second tier.

Zapato-1 has been independently assessed to hold a best estimate prospective resource of 95 million barrels of oil.

Angola’s Sonangol will earn a 70% participating interest in Block 9 by funding 85% of the cost of drilling the two wells, while it will also pay Melbana past costs totalling roughly A$5 million (US$3.7 million). Melbana will retain a 30% operating interest.

Block 9 covers about 2380 square kilometres on Cuba’s north coast and contains Cuba’s first oilfield discovered offshore, the Motembo field.

It lies adjacent to the producing Majaguillar and San Anton fields, while the multi-billion-barrel Varadero oilfield lies further west.