Winchester Energy (ASX: WEL) has praised the latest drilling campaign at its White Hat Ranch Oilfield in Texas, with an encounter of hydrocarbon shows prompting the company to move straight to production testing.
The Permian Basin-focused explorer and producer today announced the completion of horizontal lateral drilling at its existing White Hat 39#1 vertical well.
The vertical section of the well had been drilled in September last year, encountering over 6m of net oil-bearing pay calculated over around 30m in the Ellenburger formation with an average porosity of 11%.
The new horizontal component began from the top of the Ellenburger formation at a depth of 2044m and drilled almost 90m to the northwest, cutting a major fracture zone interpreted from reprocessed three-dimensional seismic data.
According to Winchester, elevated gas readings with good oil shows were observed within the fracture zones over a cumulative length of up to 35m.
As a result of this find, the company has decided to curb in its current drilling program and move straight to completion and production testing.
Winchester managing director Neville Henry said the intersection of fractured intervals in the well proved the technical concept that specific major fracture sets can be identified through 3D seismic.
“Winchester has demonstrated again that it can successfully drill a low cost horizontal lateral in the Ellenburger formation,” he said.
Henry said completion and testing activities have now commenced, with the company hoping to report results at the end of next week.
“If successful at generating highly commercial oil production, the successful use of lateral drilling in White Hat 39#1 will have proven to be a genuine game changer for Winchester,” he said.
The company has hoped the horizontal lateral drilling of White Hat 39#1 would restore some investor confidence after its stock slid from A$0.14 in December to recent levels of around A$0.04 following a disappointing production testing of its first horizontal well, White Hat 38#3ML.
The 38#3ML well was hailed as a “potential game-changer” after encountering hydrocarbon shows in November but was unfortunately too close to an existing oilfield and the horizontal leg hit a depleted oil reservoir.
According to Winchester, the White Hat 39#1 well is located about 2.5km west of the current producing White Hat Ranch Ellenburger wells and there is “no evidence of reservoir depletion”.
Winchester holds a 70% working interest in the 39#1 well. Private US companies Carl E Gungoll Exploration and USR Drilling Services hold 15% and 5% stakes, respectively. A syndicate of technical consultants hold the remaining 10%.