Features, Oil & Gas Leaks

New NT gaswell strikes trouble

Fossil Fool Bulletin • 14 January 2020

Origin Energy and its joint venture partner Falcon Oil & Gas have hit a major obstacle at their $50 million Kyalla 117 N2 appraisal well in the Northern Territory’s onshore Beetaloo Sub-Basin.

On January 13 Falcon (30% owner) said while drilling the horizontal section of the well, operator Origin (70% owner) experienced “operational challenges” and was unable to keep the well hole clean and stable.

The big-budget Kyalla 117 N2 is the first of two wells the joint venture plan to have drilled by the end of this year, targeting the Kyalla shale liquids gas play in exploration permits EP117, EP76, and EP98.

Regulations force well to be plugged

With the horizontal section of the well, considered unstable, the JV has been forced to plug the section in line with regulations.

Origin will drill a sidetrack and attempt to drill a new horizontal production hole section. Origin quickly released a statement saying the sidetrack would not “result in a material increase in cost” but did not release a figure what overruns would be.

Fracking “too risky for NT”

Graeme Sawyer from the NT Protect Country Alliance said this troubling event was yet more evidence that fracking was too risky for the Northern Territory.

“Origin Energy and Falcon’s blind fervour to frack the Northern Territory could lead to more serious environmental harm as drilling and fracking problems continue,” he said. 

Mr Sawyer said the NT public deserved more than the scant detail and industry-speak contained within Falcon’s statement.

“It could be that the driller can’t keep the borehole open and that the rock is collapsing around the drill bit,” he said. “Risks will increase if Origin and Falcon push ahead to frack shale rock from a different horizontal well nearby. 

“A halt on all activity and a full investigation of this incident should now be required until all the issues are made clear. 

“Origin Energy and Falcon should be upfront with Territorians about the problems they are experiencing.

“There are critical risk issues relating to the underlying structures in the NT and salty aquifers which need to be better understood before a full risk assessment can be made as. 

Approved before danger investigated

“Minister Eva Lawler has approved this dodgy drilling without fully understanding the risks. “It is critical no more approvals are made until full scientific studies are completed and the risks are fully investigated.”

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