US-based energy company VAALCO Energy has spudded the Etame 9P appraisal wellbore and encountered oil.

The wellbore targeted the subcropping Dentale reservoir beneath the VAALCO-operated Etame field offshore Gabon. It has been drilled to a total depth of 10,260ft and encountered both Gamba and Dentale oil sands.

VAALCO said that operations are currently underway to drill the Etame 9H horizontal development well section in the Gamba reservior. Etame-9P is a vertical pilot well, from which Etame-9H (horizontal well) will be drilled.

The well spud highlights the presence of a Dentale oil column which was initially identified in the Etame 4V well drilled in 2001. It encountered about 35ft of Dentale oil sands with 27% porosity and 3,000mD permeability.

VAALCO Energy CEO Cary Bounds said: “The successful Etame 9P is the first of many appraisal opportunities that we have identified that have the potential to create substantial organic value for our shareholders.

“The result reaffirms the upside potential yet to be exploited from the Etame field. We continue to assess the viability of drilling future Dentale development wells as we aim to extend the overall life of the field by continuing to add reserves and production.

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“We are now focused on drilling the Etame 9H development well which, if successful, could result in additional production volumes coming online in December.”

The well spud also identified an oil column which was thicker than expected in the Gamba reservoir. VAALCO mentioned that it did not encounter H2S in either of the Gamba or Dentale reservoirs.

The company said in a statement that operations are underway to retrieve drill pipe and tools that became lodged in the wellbore after reaching total depth. This will eventually postpone the completion of the Etame 9H to December 2019.