London — UK-listed upstream junior Predator Oil & Gas plans to drill a first exploration well at the Corrib South prospect offshore Ireland in 2020 as it eyes a development able to exploit existing infrastructure in the area.
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Predator's high-case estimate for reserves in the block is 900 Bcf (25 Bcm) of gas, enough to meet Ireland's entire demand of around 5 Bcm/year for five years.
"During early 2019 planning will continue to prepare for drilling the Corrib South prospect -- 18 km from the Corrib field -- in 2020," the company said.
Up until the end of 2015, Ireland imported the majority of its gas from the UK and was more than 90% dependent on a single transit point in Scotland.
However, since the startup of Corrib -- able to produce some 3.7 Bcm/year -- Ireland has significantly reduced its import dependence.
Corrib -- operated since the end of November by Canada's Vermilion Energy after previous operator Shell quit the project as part of its asset disposal program -- averaged around 8 million cu m/d in Q3 after some planned maintenance.
However, Vermilion expects a relatively fast depletion of Corrib -- in October it said it expected the field to decline at approximately 17% in 2019, 15% in 2020, and then level off to approximately 14% thereafter.
The 1 Tcf Corrib field -- which was discovered in 1996 -- took almost 20 years to begin production after a number of technical issues and public opposition.
Predator said potential collaboration with Vermilion or other companies in the future is a possibility.
Vermilion is said to be looking to do deals with other oil and gas companies exploring in the waters around Corrib, either by allowing those companies to use Corrib infrastructure to transport gas, or by buying stakes in those companies.
"The announcement validates Predator's business model in relation to focusing solely on gas in Ireland and only in those areas where gas production has already established offshore and onshore infrastructure," Predator said.
"Predator therefore is accelerating its ongoing discussions with potential partners interested in the company's Irish portfolio during January with a view to combining its assets in a substantive low risk drilling and re-entry program in 2020 to target potentially material gas resources," it said.
Predator also plans to re-enter a well drilled in 1984 at the Ram Head prospect in the Celtic Sea offshore Ireland.
Predator has completed an independent reservoir engineering study, based on modern reservoir analysis technology not available at the time to the previous operator Marathon, to assess the development potential of the discovery.
It said the study showed it had the potential to produce 11 million cu m/d of gas over 11 years.
--Stuart Elliott, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Edited by Alisdair Bowles, email@example.com