Carnarvon Petroleum and its partner Australia’s Santos have contracted the Noble Tom Prosser jackup rig to drill exploration wells, Pavo-1 and Apus-1, located near the Dorado field off Western Australia (WA).

The partners plan to commence the drilling programme at the Pavo-1 well, which will target 101 million barrels of oil equivalent (MMboe), in late 2021 followed by the Apus-1 well, which will target 307MMboe.

If successful, the two prospects are expected to materially increase the Dorado field’s aggregate development resource, with tiebacks to the existing facilities.

The move could significantly enhance economic outcomes while reducing additional capital investment, the firm noted.

Prior to commencing drilling operations at the wells, the partners will secure the remaining equipment, services and required approvals.

In 2019, Carnarvon and Santos used the Noble Tom Prosser jack-up rig to drill the Dorado-2 and Dorado-3 appraisal wells.

Carnarvon managing director and CEO Adrian Cook said: “Given the potential resource size and development aggregation benefits, these two drilling targets provide very attractive and meaningful opportunities for Carnarvon.

“Today’s news in locking in this rig is another clear point of progression in the advancement of the world-class Bedout Basin.”

Carnarvon said it also plans to move ahead with the pre-Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) and FEED activities for the Dorado field project.

The Dorado field is located within the WA-437-P permit in the North-West Shelf of Australia. Santos is the operator with an 80% stake while Carnarvon Petroleum holds the remaining 20% stake.