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UK's Ascent eyes conventional expansion of flagship Slovenia gas field

Highlights

Comes after hydraulic stimulation restriction at Petisovci

Unable to intervene in tighter gas reservoirs

Field originally seen holding 450 Bcf of gas in place

London — UK-listed Ascent Resources said Friday it wants to use conventional drilling at its flagship Petisovci gas field in Slovenia to expand production at the site after the country insisted on a new environmental impact assessment for the hydraulic restimulation of existing wells.

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Ascent -- which finally started exporting gas to Croatia from Petisovci in November 2017 after years of delays and bureaucratic obstacles -- has a new management in place following a restructuring process in July.

"The company needs to take advantage of the newly reprocessed Petisovci 3-D seismic survey to appraise new conventional targets," CEO John Buggenhagen said.

Ascent is also appealing to the administrative court in Slovenia for the right to restimulate existing and new reservoir intervals to access the "significant gas reserves" at Petisovci.

Ascent has been particularly bullish over the prospects of the Petisovci project in the past, with estimates for gas-in-place of as much as 450 Bcf (13 Bcm).

But the project has suffered a number of delays since initial drilling was completed in 2011, including appeals against Ascent's plans to build a gas processing plant in Slovenia.

Ascent reaffirmed on Friday its commitment to the project after the previous management put the company up for sale in April 2018, a process that was abandoned later in the year after potential investors were put off by the "high risk" of investing in Slovenia.

Non-executive chairman Louis Castro said being unable to intervene in the tighter gas reservoirs at Petisovci had led the company to study other options for producing from the wider concession that would not involve hydraulic stimulation.

"Over the next six weeks or so -- together with our partner Geoenergo -- we will be evaluating and prioritizing potential shallow conventional oil and gas targets and associated well site locations," Castro said.

Slovenia depends on imports for almost all its gas consumption of around 1 Bcm/year.

Croatia has a bigger gas market, with demand around 3 Bcm/year.

-- Stuart Elliott, Stuart.Elliott@spglobal.com

-- Edited by James Burgess, newsdesk@spglobal.com