Santos has been awarded two exploration permits close to its existing acreage in the vicinity of the giant ongoing Ichthys LNG development in the Browse Basin offshore Western Australia.

Partner Inpex of Japan confirmed that its subsidiary Inpex Browse E&P Pty Ltd. was part of a consortium issued with exploration permits for blocks WA-513-P and WA-514-P. Santos will hold 60% as operator, with Inpex Browse to hold the remaining 40%. The two blocks cover an area of 335 sq km and 415 sq km, respectively, in water depths ranging from approximately 300-400 m (984-1,312 ft). They are located about 500 km north-northeast of Broome.

Inpex now holds 13 exploration permits or retention leases in the vicinity of the Ichthys gas-condensate field where, as operator, it is developing the giant Ichthys LNG project (see last issue of DI, page 8). It says that exploration of the two blocks will further help it maximize the potential value of the Ichthys project, in line with the company’s strategic objectives.

Both blocks lie near large gas reserves that have been discovered, including the Ichthys gas-condensate field itself, as well as the giant Prelude and Concerto gas fields, both also in deepwater.

Most recently, a gas discovery was made by operator Santos at the Lasseter-1/ST1 exploration well in block WA-274-P, partially adjacent to WA-513-P. That well hit net pay of approximately 80 m (262 ft), with a preliminary evaluation of wireline log data confirming the hydrocarbon pay in a 400 m (1,312 ft)-long gross gas condensate section. Santos holds 30% in Lasseter as operator, with Chevron holding 50% and Inpex 20%.

The companies said when the find was announced last August that they would study the possibilities of commercial development, with the discovery some 50 km west-northwest of the Ichthys field, understood to mean an eventual subsea tieback to that infrastructure will take place when capacity becomes available on the central processing facility, which is currently under construction.

In 2012, Inpex and its partners also hit gas-condensate with the Crown-1/ST1 exploration well also in the same block, 35 km west-northwest of Lasseter and another likely Ichthys satellite field feed.