The delivery of the PNG LNG Project has provided an extensive gas infrastructure platform in PNG, making gas exploration and appraisal materially more attractive in areas close to this infrastructure. Furthermore, the Company believes PNG has material gas upside, with a yet-to-find resource potential of more than 5 billion barrels of oil equivalent (approximately half of the nation’s estimated full resource potential of 10 billion barrels of oil equivalent).
Against this backdrop, Oil Search’s near-term exploration activities are focused on supporting the ongoing commercialisation of gas in PNG, by exploring in areas near its existing gas assets and refreshing the PNG exploration inventory with high-impact gas opportunities in proven and emerging fairways.
In 2014, the Company expanded its acreage position in areas adjacent to the P’nyang, Hides and Juha gas fields in the North-West Highlands through the acquisition of interests in PPLs 464, 269 and 402, as well as an interest in PRL 15, containing the Elk-Antelope gas fields and several exploration targets, in the onshore Gulf. In 2015, the Company acquired further interests in the Gulf area, farming into PPL 339 surrounding the Elk-Antelope gas field.
A systematic appraisal and exploration programme is planned in various licences in PNG, in the North-West, Forelands and Gulf areas. Drilling in 2015/16 is targeting approximately 6-7 tcf of mean, unrisked gross prospective resources. The programme will focus on maximising the financial returns from exploration and appraisal activities through drilling wells with clear commercialisation options, using new technology and different drilling rig and partnering strategies. Longer term, Oil Search is targeting to drill 4-6 quality exploration wells in PNG each year for the foreseeable future.