SANTOS is set to acquire a 20 per cent stake in Deepwater Block R, offshore East Malaysia, after block partners INPEX and JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration each offloaded a 10% stake in the project.

Both INPEX and operator JX Nippon Oil & Gas held 37.5% stakes in the project before making the transfer, alongside Petronas Carigali, which retains a 25% stake.

The Block covers an area of 67,200 hectares with water depths of between 100 metres to 1,400 metres, near the Kikeh and the Gumusut-Kakap oilfields.

Geological and geophysical studies, as well as a 3D seismic survey were conducted over the block as pre-drilling evaluation work after the block was acquired in January 2012.

JX Deepwater Sabah, together with its joint venture partners, continues to conduct exploration activities in the Block and 3 wildcat wells are scheduled to be drilled in 2015.

It is also near Deepwater Block S, where INPEX conducts exploration activities as operator, and transferred a portion of its participating interest to Santos in September last year.

In its announcement, INPEX said it and Santos were jointly engaged in many oil and gas exploration and production activities, including the Bayu-Undan Project in the Joint Petroleum Development Area between Australia and Timor-Leste and several exploration permits adjacent to the Ichthys LNG project in the north-western Australia.

“This agreement with Santos regarding the Block is expected to further strengthen the relationship between INPEX and Santos,” INPEX said.