Cooper Energy buys into Basker-Manta-Gummy fields

Cooper Energy Ltd., Adelaide, has acquired a 65% interest and operatorship of the the Basker-Manta-Gummy (BMG) oil and gas fields in Bass Strait.

Fifty percent interest has been purchased from former operator Roc Oil Co. Ltd. with the remaining 15% coming from Beach Energy Ltd. Beach retains 35% interest in the fields. The three fields lie in production licenses Vic/L26, Vic/L27 and Vic/L28.

Roc will receive an up-front cash payment of $1 million (Aus.) and a $5 million (Aus.) contingent consideration, subject to first hydrocarbons from a commercial development.

The sale includes the transfer of operatorship to Cooper as well as all remaining Roc liabilities in the fields. The sale is effective Jan. 1 and is still subject to regulatory approval.

There was no word on the purchase price for Beach’s 15%, although Cooper will assume any abandonment liability for the interests purchased. This equates to 39% of any abandonment liability in the period to October 2018 and then 65% of any abandonment liability thereafter.

BMG project details

The BMG project contains undeveloped liquids-rich gas and some remaining oil reserves. Oil production was suspended in 2010 because a full field development, including gas development, was considered noncommercial.

The Roc-led joint venture conducted a detailed development review in the interim to understand the best routes to bring BMG gas and liquids to market. As a result Roc decided that a BMG gas development was no longer a core project because the company had turned its focus more to Southeast Asia and China.

On the other hand, Cooper Energy sees the BMG fields as having good potential because of their close proximity to existing infrastructure and the developing eastern Australian gas market where prices are rising in an increasingly tight supply situation.

The BMG field infrastructure not required for gas-liquids development has been removed, but the infrastructure relevant to produce gas and the remaining oil, including the subsea facilities, has been retained and maintained.

Cooper’s near-term focus at BMG will be on evaluation development options and determining an optimal plan for the fields’ next stage of development as a gas project. The current operating costs are $7 million (Aus.)/year, which includes maintenance of the existing subsea infrastructure and permit management.

Field detials

The Basker, Manta, and Gummy fields were originally found by Shell in 1983, 1984, and 1990, respectively, but considered noncommercial at that time. Basker, in 200 m of water and 70 km offshore Victorian, is the main oil field. Manta lies in 110 m of water a similar distance from shore and contains oil as well as significant gas reserves. The smaller Gummy field is in 150 m of water about 75 km offshore and contains mostly gas.

Shell and its partners sold the fields to Woodside Energy Ltd., Perth, in the mid-1990s and that company subsequently sold them to Anzon Australia in March 2004. Beach farmed in during 2005.

Oil production began from Basker field in 2006 with Manta added later. Oil was produced through the small Crystal Ocean floating production, storage, and offloading vessel and taken to market (mostly Melbourne and Sydney refineries) by a converted tanker called Basker Spirit. At one stage oil production reached 6,000 b/d.

Gas also was produced, but reinjected into the Basker reservoir pending the proposals for a gas development that would include Basker and Manta and introduce the Gummy field reserves.

Roc Oil merged with an ailing Anzon in 2008 and took control of the BMG operations. Other interest holders that have come and gone during the second half of the 2000s were Cieco Exploration, Sojitz Energy, and Pertamina.

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