APACHE Energy has spudded a well in the WA 435 permit on the North West Shelf of Western Australia, in what Carnarvon Petroleum hopes will see the Phoenix project be deserving of its name.

Carnarvon acquired an interest in five blocks between the Carnarvon and Browse basins which covered 2.8 million hectares in 2008 – farming out permits WA 435 P and WA 437 P to Apache and JX Nippon five years later.

Those fields were the site of the Phoenix 1 and 2 wells that were drilled in the early 1980’s by BP, at which gas had been discovered – with recent 3D seismic data confirming those structures.

Apache, which now holds a 40 per cent operating stake in the permit, sent the Atwood Eagle semi-submersible drilling rig to the location of the new Phoenix South-1 well, within the WA-435-P exploration permit in May.

The company, and project partners Carnarvon, JX Nippon and Finder Exploration (all of which have 20% stakes in the project) plan to drill the well down to 4,500 metres, but this may be extended if gas is found.

Spudded on 25 May, drilling is expected to take between 60 and 70 days, with Apache planning to plug and abandon the well after completing testing activities, including the collection of gas and reservoir rock samples.

The primary target for the Phoenix South-1 well is the interbedded sandstones, siltstones and claystones of the Early to Middle Triassic Lower Keraudren Formation and underlying Locker Shale, commencing at an approximate depth of 3,600m.

Two of these sandstone packages were gas-bearing in the Phoenix 1 well, some 13 kilometres to the north of the Phoenix South-1 location. Carnarvon considers it likely that multiple reservoir/seal pairs will be intersected throughout this well.

Carnarvon managing director Adrian Cook said the company was looking forward to results from the well in due course.

“This well has the potential to be a significant value driver for Carnarvon, but for now we are focused on supporting the Operator, Apache, and continuing with our business of securing new opportunities and sustaining oil production from our assets in Thailand,” he said.