STATOIL has spudded the second well in its 2014 drilling program in the Northern Territory’s South Georgina basin, with evaluation activities now underway.

Located in exploration permit 127, the OzBeta 1 well is a vertical exploration well expected to be drilled to a total depth of 1,300 metres, aiming to test three potential pay zones.

Project partner Baraka Energy & Resources said Statoil would case the well for future hydraulic fracture stimulation and production testing subject to the results of the initial drilling.

The move came after PetroFrontier announced the successful completion of the OzAlpha-1 well in late April, after starting the five well drilling program at the beginning of the month.

The OzAlpha-1 well, located in exploration permit 104, was drilled and cased by the operator of the joint venture Statoil Australia, with all of the planned open hole well evaluation activities now under analysis.

According to PetroFrontier, a total of 196 metres of core was recovered in a continuous coring process, which penetrated the Lower Arthur Creek and Thorntonia formations.

“The decision by the operator to case the well is encouraging; however, it is too early to tell if this well will be selected for completion and testing, as that decision has to consider the ongoing evaluation work and the results of future wells, not yet drilled,” PetroFrontier said at the time.

Statoil moved the rig to the former Owen-3H location to abandon that well in accordance with Australian regulations before starting work on the OzBeta 1 well, PetroFrontier said.

Once the OzBeta-1 well is completed, the rig will be moved to the third well location of the five well program, OzGamma-1, located in Exploration Permit 103.

A fourth well, the OzDelta 1 will be drilled in about July 2014 in EP 128, reaching a depth of about 900 metres. Baraka said it did not expect the well would have any potential for the Thorntonian formation, but possibly in an oil window.

The fifth well, OzEpsilon 1, will be drilled in the north east section of EP 128 to a depth of about 800 metres, examining the target formation to the north of the licences.

Subject to the success of the vertical well on EP127 currently being drilled, the Operator proposes to return to that well and carry out a completion and test of “OzBeta-1” in September 2014, after finalising the vertical “OzDelta-1” and “OzEpsilon-1” test wells in July and August of 2014.

Statoil holds an 60 per cent operating stake in EP 127 and EP 128, with Baraka holding 20% and PetroFrontier 15%.

The Norwegian giant holds 80% of EP 103 and EP 104, while PetroFrontier holds the remaining 20%.