AFTER being put through its paces, Energy Drilling Australia’s (EDA) $20 million rig is now drilling for unconventional targets in the Cooper basin.

The Schramm T500XD Telemast is the first of its kind in Australia, and only the second in the world. It is specifically designed for horizontal and directional drilling to a total depth of 4,500 metres or more.

After arriving from the United States in June, the rig was commissioned and put through a rigorous audit process in Brisbane to ensure it was fit for Australian conditions. The rig is now active in the Cooper basin under the operatorship of Senex Energy.

The Schramm is EDA’s fourth rig, and its most advanced.

EDA general manager Simon Mayers said it was being brought on line to capitalise on an increasing demand for exploration drilling in Queensland, the Northern Territory and South Australia, with the rig generating early interest from operators as a result of the cost savings it offers.

“In addition to the fact that no cranes are required to assemble or move it, it is highly mechanised which reduces the number of people required to operate the rig directly, therefore decreasing the safety risk for both operator and contractor,” he said.

“Due to the highly mechanised nature of the rig we have eliminated the need for a derrickman and pipe handling is all automatic, with all operations controlled from within the doghouse.’’

Mr Mayers said the company was pleased that it had been able to keep to a very tight schedule to commission the new rig on time to mobilise it on field under the required timeframe.

‘‘In part, this is because we had our own people overseeing compliance with Australian standards at the Schramm plant in the US to ensure that when the rig was delivered to us the bulk of the work had already been undertaken,” he said.

EDA was established in 2009 to provide drilling services and well servicing into the coal seam gas exploration and production sector, and has since moved into the more conventional oil and gas exploration, across Australia’s key energy regions.

The company has successfully completed drilling programs for some of Australia’s major energy companies operating in the Galilee, Surat, Cooper basins and the South Georgina field, offering both drilling and well servicing for projects at varying stages of completion.

Over the past year, the company has carried out contracts with AGL, Strike, Bridgeport, Senex and Statoil. The recently concluded Statoil program which used one of the Schramm 200s in the Northern Territory’s South Georgina Field was a big coup for EDA.

‘‘We completed the program safely within time and budget,” Mr Mayers said.

‘‘With the new rig up and running, we now have the capacity to really build the business at a time when we are seeing growing demand from the industry.”