Nautical Petroleum, an exploration and production company focused on the development of heavy oil assets in the UK and Europe, said that drilling has commenced on the Catcher prospect located on Central North Sea block 28/9.

The exploration well is operated by EnCore Oil. The drilling program comprises an initial vertical well targeting best estimate prospective resources of 21.8mmbo (3.3mmbo net), followed by a contingent sidetrack to establish the down dip extent of the accumulation and by a second contingent sidetrack into the Catcher East prospect.

The drilling is being performed by the heavy duty jack-up rig the Transocean Galaxy II. The results of the initial vertical well are expected in June.

Nautical holds a 15% equity share in the block. The company’s costs of the well are being partly carried by our joint venture partner Premier Oil.

Steve Jenkins, CEO of Nautical Petroleum, said: “Block 28/9 contains numerous stratigraphic prospects and leads at the Paleocene, Eocene and the Jurassic levels. A recent interpretation of reprocessed 3D seismic has defined traps and revealed several seismic anomalies.

“The well is targeting the strongest and most convincing of those prospects, where a seismic amplitude anomaly indicates a thick sand sequence likely to be oil bearing.”