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Australian major BHP Billiton has asked for a time extension for one of its frontier deepwater blocks offshore the Philippines while it tries to find an available ultra-deepwater (UDW) drilling rig with specialized, well-control equipment.
Partner Otto Energy Ltd. said that BHP, operator of Philippines Service Contract 55 (SC55), has requested that the Department of Energy (DOE) extend the current Exploration Sub-Phase 4 of SC55 by 18 months. If approved by the DOE, this would extend the current contractual deadline to complete drilling of the commitment well from Aug. 5, 2012, to Feb. 5, 2014.
Otto stated that BHP Billiton has requested this extension “in order to secure an appropriate ultra-deepwater rig with specialized, well-control equipment that will promote safe drilling operations on the proposed Cinco prospect. Availability of such rigs is currently limited and has been considered in the duration of the requested extension. The requested extension also is expected to provide time for post-well analysis prior to commitment to any subsequent sub-phase.”
No specific date for the start of drilling operations in SC55 can be given until a rig has been secured, said Otto. The company reiterated its longstanding view that SC55 holds “significant hydrocarbon potential and the company looks forward to seeing the drilling program executed as soon as is safely possible.”
The working interests in Service Contract 55 are: BHP Billiton Petroleum (Philippines) Corp. (60%), Otto Energy (through wholly owned subsidiary NorAsian Energy Ltd., 33.18%), and Trans-Asia Oil and Energy Development Corp. (6.82%).