Strike Energy has spudded Jaws-1, which may sound like the sequel to a Hollywood blockbuster starring Robert Shaw but to any Australian hydrocarbon hunter is a historic-making appraisal well carrying the hopes of a substantial gas supply to the country’s constrained east coast.

The well will be drilled to target depth of 2,000 m (6,562 ft) in the Southern Cooper Basin and is set to become what Strike has proclaimed as the deepest pure coal seam gas well ever drilled in the southern hemisphere –and possibly the world as an “exclusive” coal seam operation.

The Adelaide-headquartered company said the vertical intercept well broke dirt and the powerful Ensign 965 drill rig, with a hook load of 700,000 lb and 2,000 hp of hydraulic pumping capacity, was operating at full capability. From target depth the well will extend 800 m (2,625 ft) in a horizontal seven-stage hydraulic stimulation program to test the gas-charged 35 m (115 ft) thick Vu upper coal seam.

Jaws-1 is almost three times the depth of a typical Australian coal seam gas well found in the state of Queensland, as it sits in a unique geological formation that holds the gas in a saddle-type zone shielding it from high pressures that would prevent it from flowing. The thick reservoir has a pay zone of about 30 m (98 ft), which is about six times larger than a Queensland coal seam pay zone.

Strike Energy is in the hunt for a gas prize estimated at up to 11 trillion cubic feet and has a 66.67% interest as operator of the Southern Cooper Basin Gas Project. The remaining 33.33% is held by Energy World Corp..

The spud came just over a week after Strike announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Halliburton giving the Houston-headquartered corporation first right of refusal to drill the first 50 wells of an expanded campaign in the Southern Cooper Basin.

Strike said the MOU was subject to Halliburton’s successful execution of the Jaws-1 well and the commercial success of the Klebb Field, which is located about 70 km (43 miles) from the Moomba gas processing hub in central Australia.

We are pleased to agree terms where both parties are looking at continuing our collaborative relationship,” said Sid Whyte, regional vice president of Asia Pacific for Halliburton, “and Halliburton is confident we will execute successfully against our key performance criteria and deliver superior service quality for Strike.”

Strike described the spudding of Jaws-1 as synonymous with moving a final jigsaw into place to hopefully crack the code and open the spigots.

“The production of commercial flow rates of gas from the Jaws-1 well is the final technical milestone required to appraise the quality of Strike’s Southern Cooper Basin Gas Project,” Strike said.

Jaws-1 is slated to be completed in April and the spud was, by all accounts, a red-letter day for company management.

 “The spud of the Jaws-1 well is the culmination point in what has been a major turnaround for Strike. The new team at Strike have completed almost a full year of work in preparation for this milestone, which has seen the company redefine its geological, technical, commercial and economic foundations,” Strike Managing Director Stuart Nicholls said.

“Armed with our new strategic direction, Strike has successfully designed and procured the services and equipment required to execute Jaws-1 in partnership with Halliburton. The timing of this ground-breaking well is critical to Australia’s energy security and may indeed be one of the highest impact well results in the East Coast gas landscape in 2018.”

He added that “Jaws-1 is the precursor to having the final data and information required to book a reserve, which will then trigger the beginning of the development phase of the Southern Cooper Basin Gas Project.”