Australian oil and gas company Cooper Energy has announced that semi-submersible drilling rig Ocean Monarch has begun mobilisation from the Gippsland Basin to the Otway Basin along the southern coast of Australia where it will drill two offshore gas exploration wells.

US offshore drilling contractor Diamond Offshore operates the Ocean Monarch rig.

The Annie-1 and Elanora-1 exploration wells will be the first to be drilled in the Otway Basin in seven years.

Cooper Energy, the operator, will have a 50% interest. Mitsui E&P Australia will hold the remaining 50% interest. Both companies have taken up drilling the wells to identify new sources of gas supply for south-east Australia.

Cooper Energy said that the commercial discoveries resulting from the programme could be developed through connection to the two companies’ existing Casino Henry gas operations from 2021.

Drilling rig Ocean Monarch is expected to arrive at the Annie-1 well-site 9km offshore Peterborough in July 2019. The company said that the rig is expected to be visible from the coast over the 35-day duration of the well.

Cooper Energy, which has provided project briefings to local communities and answered questions on the programme in advance of the rig’s arrival, said that it will continue to inform interested parties including announcement of the commencement of the drilling operations.