Otto Energy has exercised its option to participate in the drilling of the SM-71-1 well in the South Marsh Island 71 license with Australian compatriot Byron Energy.

The Hercules 205 jackup drilling rig, which recently drilled the SM-6-2 well, will be mobilized to the SM-71-1 well location in the coming days. Drilling is expected to take about 20 days.

Earlier this month, Byron announced that SM-6-2 was successfully drilled to intermediate casing point at 7,387 ft (2,389 m), and that hydrocarbon indications in F sands are consistent or better than those observed in offset wells. However, on March 18, drill pipe became stuck at 8,039 ft (2,451 m), around 400 ft (121 m) above the primary target reservoir in the G 20 Sand.

The SM-71 well will target the primary D5 sands at less than 7,000 ft (2,133 m) in a benign pressure regime.

Managing Director Matthew Allen said: “Notwithstanding the disappointing outcome at SMI-6-2, Otto considers the opportunity at SM-71-1 to be a compelling and low-cost drilling opportunity with the potential to yield strong value for its shareholders.

“It is important to note that the SM-71 opportunity is geologically independent from the recently drilled SM-6-2 well and Otto is satisfied that the team at Byron can successfully drill the SM-71-1 well to the target interval. Despite the setback intersecting an impenetrable shale interval in SM-6-2, we have been very pleased with the performance of the rig and the operating team at Byron and look forward to commencement of operations at the SM-71-1 well in the coming few days.”