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Dukas drilling halted

Higher than anticipated formation pressure prevents joint venture hitting primary target

Australian duo Santos and Central Petroleum have been forced to halt drilling the Dukas-1 exploration well in the Northern Territory before hitting the primary target.

It was previously reported the well had encountered formation pressures, associated with an inflow of gas, much higher than predicted at a depth of 3704 metres

Central said Tuesday that operator Santos had assessed the potential formation pressures that could be encountered drilling deeper towards the primary target and determined they were in excess of the capabilities of the current rig and surface equipment.

“A delay in completing the drilling of Dukas-1 is frustrating for everyone, especially with promising indicators this close to our target,” Central chief executive Leon Devaney said.

“Notwithstanding, a drilling delay due to high-pressure hydrocarbon-bearing gas just above the target formation is, on balance, a positive development for this exciting prospect.”

The joint venture is currently acquiring a suite of wireline logs and then plans to suspend the well as develops a forward plan over the coming months.

Central noted that it was not currently possible to obtain a downhole gas sample for full compositional testing, but said gas recovered to surface with drilling fluids confirmed the presence of hydrocarbons and inert gasses, providing evidence of a working petroleum system.

Dukas-1 is a frontier sub-salt play with about 520 square kilometres of closure and the potential to hold multi-trillion cubic feet of gas.

Central is being free carried through all costs associated with Dukas-1 as part of a farm-in obligation from Santos which will see it earn a 70% operated interest in EP112, with Central to hold the remaining 30% equity.

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