(MENAFN - ProactiveInvestors - Australia) Norwest Energy's (ASX: NWE) Arrowsmith unconventional oil and gas project in the Perth Basin has received a vote of confidence from Indian partner Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL).
BPCL is a Global Fortune 500 company, retailing petroleum products through 11,000 outlets.
BPCL committed to furthering its investment in the key Arrowsmith-2 well and will also carry out investigations into the provision of pipeline infrastructure and the marketing of gas to the domestic market and potentially India.
Norwest chief executive officer Peter Munachen told Proactive Investors that discussions were held into options for liquefied natural gas exports to India.
The commitment comes after BPCL chairman R.K. Singh visited the Arrowsmith-2 site earlier this week with senior Western Australia Government officials responsible for managing the State's energy resources.
BPCL " one of India's largest petroleum, marketing and refining companies " and Norwest also reviewed the Western Australia gas market and pricing as well as the process to build a pipeline from the well to the nearby existing pipeline infrastructure.
"I was extremely pleased that Mr. Singh, the Chairman of one of India's largest companies, could come to Western Australia to visit the project and meet with the project team," Munachen added.
"Norwest has developed a strong relationship with BPCL over a number of years and this visit indicated the strength of their interest in the Arrowsmith project, which augers well for the future."
Partners in EP 413 are operator Norwest with 27.945%, AWE Limited (ASX: AWE) with 44.252% and BPCL (27.803%).
Arrowsmith-2 clean up
Norwest added that clean-up and flow back activities are continuing on the shallowest interval in the well, the Kockatea Shale.
"In recent days the flow back rate of injected water has increased, as well as the flow of hydrocarbons to surface. However a large quantity of the injected fluids remains to be recovered before indicative rates for oil and gas flows may be calculated," Munachen said.
"Norwest has recently implemented a mechanical intervention process that has contributed to improvement of the daily flow back. Approval has also now been granted by the DMP (Department of Mines and Petroleum) to operate a 24 hour shift operation that will further contribute to improvement in the flow back."
Once the testing program is completed, the Kockatea Shale interval will be sealed off and flow back will then recommence on the lower intervals, the Carynginia Formation and the Irwin River Coal Measures, with the ultimate objective being to establish gas rates for contingent resource calculations from each of the individual formations.
While a gas rate was not confirmed initially due to limited flow back time, the Lower and Middle Carynginia and the Irwin River Coal Measures all remain highly prospective as potential shale gas producers.
The Irwin River Coal Measures was slower to deliver gas compared to the other zones though this is believed to be a product of the flow back strategy used on this zone rather than an indication of its ability to produce gas.
The High Cliff Sandstone, a tight sandstone target, is expected to deliver a significantly higher rate than the reported rate of 777,000 cubic feet of gas per day once the zone is fully cleaned up.
An extended well test will then be required to determine the areal extent of the HCSS target. It is expected that this program of work will run for 3-4 months, depending upon results.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration had in 2011 estimated the Perth Basin could hold 59 trillion cubic feet of gas within the Kockatea Shale and Carynginia Formation.
This estimate is likely to rise higher if the Irwin River Coal Measures, which was not included in the estimate, proves to be commercial.
Bharat Petroleum Corporation
BPCL is quoted on the Bombay Stock Exchange and is listed at number 225 in the 2012 Global Fortune 500.
It owns and operates four refineries throughout India and retails petroleum products through about 11,000 outlets.
BPCL is also a shareholder in Indian LNG importer Petronet LNG, which has a contract to purchase LNG from ExxonMobil's share of offtake from the giant Gorgon gas project that is under development in Western Australia.
It also has an exploration arm Bharat PetroResources that has experience and success in both Indian and worldwide exploration projects. This includes discoveries in Brazil, Indonesia and Mozambique.
BPCL's decision to progress its investment in the Arrowsmith development is a major vote of confidence for the project.
Although terms have not been disclosed, the involvement of BPCL has potential to change the valuation dynamics of Northwest.
Even a starting investment will effectively underwrite Norwest by de-risking development of the project along the way.
It also highlights the project's potential to deliver gas to the Western Australia domestic market and now potentially exports to India.
In addition, oil production from the Kockatea Shale will provide Norwest with early cash flows.