JUST days after it was announced that BP was pulling out of its Great Australian Bight drilling commitments, it was revealed that the global oil and gas major would be joining Australian junior Cue Energy Resources to expore off the north west coast of WA.

Cue Exploration Pty Ltd has executed agreements with BP Developments Australia Pty Ltd to acquire equity in the North West Shelf exploration permits WA-409-P and WA-359- P in the Carnarvon Basin.

BP will acquire 80% equity and be Operator of WA-409-P and will fund 100% of the work programme required under the permit for the first three years of the licence renewal. BP also has an option through to May 2017 to acquire 42.5% equity in WA-359-P. If BP exercise this option, 50% of the cost of drilling a well in WA-359-P will be funded.

Cue said BP will also assist it in securing a suitable partner or partners to join them to drill an exploration well in WA-359-P, scheduled for the first half of 2018.

The main target for the new exploration JV will be the Ironbark prospect previously identified by Cue via comprehensive regional study using 15,000 sq. km of 3D and 2D seismic data and 17 well ties to map the Triassic intra-Mungaroo sands (as encountered at the Gorgon gas field).

Ironbark, which straddles the WA-359-P and WA-409-P permits in moderate water depths has been mapped with an area of up to 400 sq. km with a best technical estimate of 15 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of prospective recoverable gas resource1 based on an internal technical assessment performed by Cue.

“The Ironbark prospect has the potential to fundamentally alter the value of Cue. If Cue’s assessment is proven to be correct, Ironbark would be three times the size of the Scarborough, Wheatstone, or Pluto fields,” Cue executive chairman, Grant Worner, said.

Mr Worner said BP’s technical expertise and knowledge of the Carnarvon Basin through their long participation in the North West Shelf Joint Venture was significant.