Santos JV granted regulatory approval for Dorado development

March 6, 2023

Santos Ltd. received approval from Australia’s National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) for the $2-billion Dorado oil and gas field development in the Bedout subbasin offshore northwest Western Australia.

Dorado is a phased liquids and gas project comprising an initial phase of liquids development with gas re-injection and liquids offtake via a floating production, storage, and offtake vessel. A second stage will recover and pipe gas to the Western Australian domestic markets and LNG markets. The gas has a low carbon dioxide (CO2) content of about 1.5%.

Production of 75,000-100,000 b/d is expected in phase one. The oil is a light, sweet crude with an API value of 51 degrees.

Santos, as operator, was granted a production license for the field in April 2022.

The joint venture’s focus is to finalize the development concept and obtain remaining approvals needed to make a positive final investment decision, said Kevin Gallagher, managing director and chief executive officer.

Dorado development is enhanced by the recent nearby discovery of oil and gas at Pavo field.

The two fields have combined estimated 2C contingent resource of 189 million bbl of liquids and 401 petajoules of gas.

Dorado, discovered in 2018, lies in 90 m of water about 150 km north of Port Hedland.

Santos holds 80% interest in Dorado and 70% interest in Pavo. Partner Carnarvon Energy Ltd. holds 20% in Dorado and 30% in Pavo.


Separately, Santos has taken $328 million in write-downs following a cut to oil and gas reserve estimates in several fields off Western Australia and other late-life ventures. Some $147 million of the write-downs are related to Spar and Halyard fields where production wells have begun flowing water sooner than expected.

However, proven and probable reserves in the overall portfolio more than offset the volume of oil and gas produced during 2022, Santos said. 2P reserves stood at 1.745 billion bbl at end-2022, an increase of 4% over 2021.

The reserves figures were boosted by the August 2022 decision to proceed with development of the $2.6-billion Pikka oil project on the North Slope of Alaska. Smaller increases in reserves replacing production have occurred in Papua New Guinea and Cooper basin.