Australian oil and gas producer Senex Energy Ltd. (ASX: SXY) will start its Surat Basin natural gas drilling program next month after contracting oil and gas services provider Easternwell. Senex is a supplier of gas to Australia's east coast gas market.

Over the past 12 months Senex has received all required state and federal regulatory approvals across Project Atlas and Roma North; partnered with major infrastructure provider Jemena to build, own and operate the Project Atlas gas processing facility and associated pipeline.

Civil works are underway on this facility, with commissioning and first sales gas due late in 2019, according to the company.

In addition, Senex said it has progressed construction of the Roma North gas processing facility, with civil works and pipeline construction complete and major equipment items installed. Commissioning of the facility and first sales gas are due in mid-2019, the company said in a press release. I also said it has progressed construction of the well lease pads in advance of drilling.

Managing Director and CEO Ian Davies said Senex and Easternwell had developed a strong working relationship over many years in the Cooper and Surat basins.“This contract puts in place one of the final major elements for the delivery of our Surat Basin natural gas projects.

“With construction of the gas processing facilities on schedule, and drilling to start in May, Senex is on track to deliver first sales gas from Roma North mid-year and from Project Atlas by the end of 201," he said."These developments will achieve a step change in production, cash-flow and earnings for Senex and deliver much needed gas to the east coast market.”

Easternwell will start Senex’s natural gas drilling program across Project Atlas and Roma North in May, according the press release. Completion of this initial drilling program planned for mid-2020.

Senex can extend the duration of the Easternwell contract to a total period of up to two years from the contract start date.