MELBANA Energy Limited reports that acquisition of the Beehive 3D Seismic Survey has commenced.

The Beehive 3D Seismic Survey is being acquired by Polarcus using its vessel Polarcus Naila and will acquire approximately 600 sq. km of seismic data over the Beehive Prospect in the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf, 225 km southwest of Darwin.

Water depths in the acquisition area range from approximately 30 to 50 m.

Melbana said the acquisition of a new 3D seismic survey over Beehive will provide potential for further de-risking of the prospect and will facilitate consideration of a preferred location for the Beehive-1 exploration well.

The Beehive 3D Seismic Survey is
being operated by Santos pursuant to an Operations Services Agreement and is fully funded by French major Total and Santos.

Total and Santos have an option (exercisable together or individually) to acquire a direct 80% participating interest in the permit in return for fully funding the costs of all activities until completion of the first well in the WA-488-P permit.

Beehive is located close to several existing facilities including Ichthys project and Blacktip field and pipeline offering several options for future gas monetisation. In the event of a commercial discovery, Melbana will repay carried funding from its share of cash flow from the Beehive field. Melbana will have no re-payment obligations for such carried funding in the event there is no commercial discovery and development in WA- 488-P .

Melbana says that the Beehive prospect is potentially the largest undrilled hydrocarbon prospect in Australia. It is a Carboniferous age 180 sq. km isolated carbonate build up with 400m of mapped vertical relief, analogous to the giant Tengiz field in the Caspian Basin. It is located in 40m water depth suitable for a jack up rig, within ~75km of shore and developable by either FPSO or pipeline to existing infrastructure. This play type is new and undrilled in the Bonaparte Basin with no wells having been drilled to this depth in the basin.

The carbonate reservoir is also interpreted to be the same age as the 2011 Ungani-1 oil discovery in the Canning basin, which tested at 1,600 bopd demonstrating a high quality reservoir.

Melbana says Beehive is a much larger build up than Ungani and has excellent access to the Lower Carboniferous source rock in adjacent depocentres.

Beehive is currently defined by a tight grid of 2D seismic data. The acquisition of the new 3D seismic survey over Beehive will provide potential for further de-risking of the prospect and facilitate consideration of a preferred location for the Beehive-1 exploration well.