Off-shore gas exploration in Victoria’s south west coast is going ahead, with two energy companies, Beach Energy and Bridgeport Energy being awarded permits to search for new gas.
The Otway Basin is an abundant source of natural gas and it has been produced in the region for many years. The explorative drilling is undertaken with consultation with fishing industry, local community members and government bodies; gas resources accessed without any disturbance to the marine environment. This current offshore exploration has potential to bring up to $80 million1 to the state’s economy, as well as create new and local jobs and is situated approximately 32-80km off the coast from Port Campbell.
The drilling rig is an impressive asset. Up to two tugs will tow the rig into place and anchors at sites determined by prior seabed assessments and laid by anchor handling vessels. A surface hole is drilled and cased, then a Marine Riser and Blow Out Preventer installed. The Blow Out Preventer, weighing over 200 tonnes and 14m high2, is highly specialised valve unit that ensures well integrity throughout the drilling required to reach the gas reservoir beneath the seabed. The rig is moved from one well to another repeating the anchoring and drilling process.
Over an eighteen month campaign, eight wells are to be drilled and tied-in to the existing seabed pipeline which flows raw gas to the plant. There is a 2km cautionary zone around the drilling rig overlaid with a 500km safety exclusion zone3. Once the well is discovered to be viable, the reserves are expected to produce gas for several years, ensuring a safe natural gas supply to the Australian energy market.
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3Sourced: as above