DEFINING the size and potential productivity of the Elk-Antelope gas field, on PRL 15 in Papua New Guinea, is the number one priority of planned exploration activity at the project, Oil Search managing director Peter Botten has said.

Speaking to journalists in a conference call following the release of the company’s first half results for the 2015 calendar year, Mr Botten said the joint venture’s focus was on understanding both the size of the resources and its potential productivity.

“When we understand that we can decide whether it is a one train or two train development and the size of those trains,” he said.

This would lead to negotiations with governments and landowners and potentially front end engineering and design plans.

“We have been encouraged by what we have seen to date but until you finish the drilling program it is speculative as to how big the resource may be, and that really does drive if it’s a one or two train development by the shape of those trains,” he said.

InterOil chief executive Michael Hession had more confidence, saying available data from the Elk-Antelope project had confirmed the company’s confidence that the Elk-Antelope project could support two trains.

“Our latest downhole pressure measurements from flow testing at Antelope demonstrate clear connectivity across the field – that is, we see no evidence of compartmentalisation either laterally or vertically,” he said.

“The testing also shows a world‐class multi‐ darcy reservoir with strong deliverability, which will favourably affect the number of wells needed for production.”

InterOil senior vice president of exploration David Kirk said testing from the Antelope 5 well had uncovered some of the best reservoirs in the Antelope field, coming in 230 metres above the company’s reference case.

The company started drilling a side-track to the Antelope 4 well in late August after the appraisal well was suspended in May.

“When Antelope 4 is completed, we plan to also use it as a listening well [to measure the pressure response] as part of a larger interference testing program,” Mr Kirk said.

“We have only a few hundred metres to go and will then move on to Antelope 6 where the site is near completion. We expect to spud the well later this year.”

Oil Search executive general manager of gas business development Ian Munro said the joint venture was planning to drill another two wells in the area in 2016 – Antelope South and Kalangar 1 – both testing new prospects along trend from Antelope.

“Antelope 7 has been discussed … but whether we actually need to drill a well will be determined certainly following Antelope 4 side track where we have a pretty extensive well test program,” he said.