Australian offshore regulator NOPSEMA has granted Melbana Energy environmental approval to undertake a 3D seismic survey over the Beehive Prospect offshore Australia.
Beehive is located in the WA-448-P permit operated by Melbana, formerly known as MEO Australia, with a 100% interest.
Melbana said on Wednesday that the Beehive 3D survey was being operated by Australian energy company Santos pursuant to an operations services agreement and was fully funded by Total and Santos.
According to the company, the Beehive survey contractor will be appointed imminently and the survey is expected to begin in July and completed before the end of August 2018.
The survey is a typical 3D survey using methods and procedures similar to others conducted in Australian waters.
The survey acquisition area is approximately 600 km2 with a larger operational area around it to allow for vessel turns and testing of equipment. The operational area is located in the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf, approximately 225 kilometers west-southwest from Darwin.
Total and Santos have an option, which is exercisable together or individually, to acquire a direct 80 percent participating interest in the permit in return for fully funding the costs of all activities until completion of the first well in the WA-488-P permit.
In the event of a commercial discovery, Melbana will repay carried funding from its share of cash flow from the Beehive field. Melbana will have no re-payment obligations for such carried funding in the event there is no commercial discovery and development in WA-488-P.
The company added that the acquisition of a new 3D seismic survey over Beehive would provide the potential for further de-risking of the prospect and would facilitate consideration of a preferred location for the Beehive-1 exploration well.
Melbana’s CEO, Robert Zammit, said: “We are pleased that we have been able to secure the environmental permit in sufficient time to enable the prompt acquisition of the Beehive 3D seismic survey.
“Our existing commercial arrangement with Total and Santos provides Melbana with the opportunity to explore this enormous prospect at no further cost to Melbana through to the completion of the first exploration well, which if successful, would be a game changer for our company, the region and its shareholders.”
According to Melbana, the Beehive prospect is potentially the largest undrilled hydrocarbon prospect in Australia. It is a Carboniferous age 180km2 isolated carbonate build up with 400m of mapped vertical relief, analogous to the giant Tengiz field in the Caspian Basin. It is located in 40m water depth suitable for a jack-up rig, within about 75km of shore and developable by either FPSO or pipeline to existing infrastructure. This play type is new and undrilled in the Bonaparte Basin with no wells having been drilled to this depth in the basin.
Beehive is located close to several existing facilities including Ichthys project and Blacktip field and pipeline offering several options for future gas monetization.