MEO'S long-standing plans to commercialize stranded gas in the Timor Sea are about to move forward with the arrival off Darwin of the West Atlas jack-up drilling rig.
The newly constructed rig, owned by Seadrill, has been shipped from Singapore on the semi-submersible open-deck heavy-lift transport carrier Blue Marlin.
The transporter is able to sink its load deck below sea-level to allow equipment to be floated off without using cranes.
MEO, which used to be Methanol Australia, is planning a gas-to-liquids project in the Bonaparte Gulf using its 100 per cent-owned Tassie Shoal LNG project and the 50 per cent-owned Tassie Shoal ethanol project about 275km northwest of Darwin.
The West Atlas rig will be towed to the Heron-2 well location in permit NT/P68 in the next week.
MEO has also commissioned the rig to drill three other wells in the permit area.
The Tassie Shoal project is based on two large natural
gas reforming and methanol production plants and an LNG production facility
capable of producing 3.5 million tonnes a year of methanol and 3 million tonnes of LNG, which have already secured Commonwealth environmental approvals.
MEO says the NT/P68 permit could confirm commercial natural gas accumulations, which could underpin the LNG and methanol projects.
MEO has told the stock exchange the permit also offers potential to contain a condensate (light oil) resource. MEO has completed processing of the 3D seismic data acquired over the Epenarra and Heron structures in 2006.
Studies carried out by Dutch data collection group Fugro boosted confidence in the potential presence of hydrocarbons in the main reservoir units.
The 57,000-ton Blue Marlin has previously been used in the Timor Sea in 2003 to install topsides for the ConocoPhillips Bayu-Undan gas recycling development. [Source: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au]