Australia’s Carnarvon Energy has commenced drilling an appraisal well at the Buffalo field, offshore Timor-Leste, that it is hoped will spur the redevelopment of the shut-in oilfield.

The operator confirmed Friday drilling had started on the Buffalo-10 appraisal well, using the jack-up Valaris JU-107 drilling rig.

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The well is being drilled in a water depth of 30 metres and will be drilled to a total depth of about 3500 metres to test the presence of an attic oil accumulation that remains after the original Buffalo development was closed-in.

It is hoped, if successful, the appraisal well will help convert the best estimate certified resources of 34.3 million barrels of oil to proved plus probable reserves and lead to the early re-development of the Buffalo field.

Buffalo was originally discovered in 1996 by BHP, with output commencing in 1999 and reaching rates of up to 50,000 barrels per day, however production had fallen to about 4000 bpd by 2004 when the field was shut-in by then operator Nexen Petroleum, having produced roughly 20.5 million barrels of oil since start-up.

Carnarvon’s re-development options for the field currently involve a wellhead platform connected to a floating production, storage and offloading vessel, or a mobile operating production unit connected to a floating storage and offloading vessel.

The option Carnarvon chooses, along with the potential number of production wells to be drilled, will be decided following the results of the Buffalo-10 well, as well as market pricing around the different development options at the time of the decision.

The Buffalo field lies within the TL-SO-T-19-14 production sharing contract, which Carnarvon operates in a 50:50 partnership with London-listed Advance Energy.