Central Petroleum Ltd., Brisbane, was granted a production license (PL 6) for its Surprise oil field in the Amadeus basin of the Northern Territory west of Alice Springs.
The award comes hard on the heels of last week’s acquisition of Magellan Petroleum Australia’s interests in the Palm Valley and Dingo gas fields and catapults Central into the ranks of Australia’s onshore producers.
Surprise is the first production license to be granted in the onshore Northern Territory since the passing of the Native Title Act 1993 and is seen as an important milestone for the company as well as for the traditional owners.
Central expects all facilities required for the long-term oil production at Surprise field to be operational by mid-March.
Surprise-1 first found oil in 2010, but mechanical problems with the rig prevented testing. A redrill in 2011-12 flowed oil to surface and an extended production test the same year flowed at rates of 200-400 b/d.
The field lies on both sides of a prominent fault. So far efforts have concentrated on the western side where 1P reserves are put at 600,000 bbl, 2P reserves at 1.1 million bbl, and 3P reserves of 2.1 million bbl.
Central believes the reservoir on the eastern side has contingent reserves of 5.85 million bbl and is working to confirm the figure.
The field will be brought on stream with the Surprise West development that entails a reentry of Surprise-1 to install pumping equipment, construction of a production facility and storage for 5,000 bbl of oil. Production is expected to be 400 b/d.
Future plans include the drilling of Surprise East-1 to investigate reserves on the east side of the fault.