Vintage Energy Ltd. said Jan. 30 that Comet Ridge Ltd., as operator of the Galilee Basin Deeps joint venture (GBDJV, Vintage 15%), has executed a rig contract with Ensign Drilling to secure Rig 932 for the Albany-2 and Albany-1/ST1 drilling program.

The program is scheduled to commence in March 2019 once the wet season has finished. The agreement is for two firm wells plus two contingent wells, with the contingent wells dependent upon evaluation of the Koburra 2-D seismic program.

Ensign Rig 932 is 1,000 horse-power rig and depth rated to 3,200 m (10,498 ft). It is a significantly larger and more powerful rig than utilized on the project previously and will both increase drilling rates for the planned wells and reduce trip times when changing drill bits or other components on the drill pipe.

Vintage and Comet Ridge have now both formally committed to Stage 2 of the farm-in process, whereby Vintage will earn an additional 15% interest in the GBDJV. The agreed Stage 2 work program is 325 km (201 miles) of 2-D seismic and the drilling of Albany-2 and deepening of Albany-1, which successfully flowed gas from a 13 m (42 ft) sandstone interval in June 2018. The Koburra 2-D seismic program is now well underway with line preparation completed and over one third of the seismic data acquired.

“The possibility of extending the drilling program beyond 2 wells gives the joint venture scope to accelerate evaluation of the significant exploration potential of the joint venture area,” Neil Gibbins, Vintage managing director, said. “Stage 2 of the farm-in is already underway and we are looking forward to a very active operational program during the second half of FY19.”