Bowleven, a West Africa-based oil and gas exploration group, has commenced drilling operations on the Etinde Permit, offshore Cameroon.

The IE-3 appraisal well in block MLHP-7 in the Rio Del Rey basin is the first well in a multi well drilling program planned on Etinde during 2010. The jack-up drilling rig, the Noble Tommy Craighead, is on location and the well is expected to spud on or around May 7, 2010.

The objective of the IE-3 well is to further appraise and confirm commerciality of the existing IE gas/condensate field. The well is intended to appraise the extent and communication of the main reservoir Isongo sands updip of the previous wells drilled.

In addition, this well will also penetrate the shallower Biafra gas accumulation and target additional deeper Isongo sand reservoirs. A conclusion should promote the rapid development of the IE field for condensate production through gas recycling. The previous appraisal well (IE-2Z) tested 31mmscfd and 3,730bcpd, the company said.

The IE-3 well is to be drilled to an estimated target depth of circa 2,800mt and drilling is expected to take approximately 60 days (excluding testing).

Kevin Hart, CEO of Bowleven, said: “The commencement of drilling operations on Etinde marks the beginning of an exciting and potentially transformational period for the company with multiple wells and seismic planned across the acreage.

“The first well in the campaign, the IE-3 gas/condensate appraisal well, and the later IF-2 oil appraisal well both support Bowleven’s overarching objective of moving hydrocarbons from discovered resources to proven reserves. In addition, following the IE-3 appraisal well, we intend drilling a high impact exploration well on MLHP-5 with the goal of further evaluating the significant exploration potential of the Douala Basin.”