The Mereenie oil and gas field located in Amadeus Basin, Australia has been in production since 1984.

Central Petroleum acquired a 50% interest and operatorship of the onshore field from Santos in September 2015, while  Macquarie Mereenie, a subsidiary of Macquarie Group, picked up the remaining 50% stake from Santos in January 2017.

The Mereenie field was discovered in 1963 and its current production capacity is approximately 32 terajoule (TJ) a day.

The field produced approximately 157,000 barrels of oil and 9.207 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas in 2020.

Location and reservoir details

The Mereenie field is located in petroleum leases OL 4 and OL 5 in Amadeus Basin, Northern Territory, Australia. The OL 4 and OL 5 are spread over 123km2 and 158km2 respectively and the field area is situated approximately 280km west of Alice Springs, Northern Territory.

The Mereenie field contains hydrocarbon accumulation in an elongated 4-way dip anticline measuring approximately 40km-long and more than 5 km wide.

The Mereenie reservoirs consist of sandstones of the Pacoota Formation overlying the Stairway Sandstone. The gross hydrocarbon interval of the Mereenie field is in excess of 800m with a gas cap and an oil rim.

The Stairway Formation is estimated to hold more than 100 petajoules (PJ) of gross contingent resources.

Field infrastructure

The Mereenie field was being operated with 43 active wells, out of a total of 71 wells, as of September 2020. The processing facilities at the field include a central treatment plant and an eastern satellite station.

The field produces oil, gas, as well as condensates. The oil and condensates are processed and transported to Port Bonython, South Australia, by tankers for storage and later export to international markets, while the gas output is supplied via pipelines to customers in the Northern Territory and the east coast of Australia.

Mereenie facility upgrade

The Mereenie facility upgrade project was completed in 2019 to increase the gas production capacity for feeding the Northern Gas Pipeline. The project involved the installation of two new inlet separators for the central treatment plant, the restaging of the existing Field Boost Compressors, the installation of a new Field Boost Compressor, the refurbishment and restart of Plant 3 liquids recovery plant, and upgrades to the control system.

With the completion of the upgrade project, the gas production at the Mereenie field almost tripled in 2019 compared to 2018.

The 622km-long Northern Gas Pipeline (NGP), operated by Jemena, started commercial operations in January 2019. The pipeline originates at Tennant Creek, Northern Territory, and terminates at Mount Isa, Queensland. The NGP pipeline is also connected to the Amadeus Gas Pipeline, which stretches from the Palm Valley and Mereenie fields to Darwin, at Tennant Creek.

The recent field expansion plan

The Mereenie field development partners are planning to drill two new vertical production wells and recomplete four existing wells with the first development well expected to start producing gas before July 2021.

Following the completion of these development activities, the field’s production capacity is expected to increase up to 45TJ a day with the 2P reserves estimate increased by approximately 40PJ of gas.

Central Petroleum signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Australian Gas Infrastructure Group and Macquarie Mereenie to progress a final investment decision (FID) for the development of the Amadeus to Moomba gas pipeline (AMGP) in August 2020. The FID is expected in the second half of 2021 with the start of pipeline operations expected in the first quarter of 2024.

The proposed 950km-long, up to 16in-diameter gas pipeline, originating from the Amadeus Basin in the Northern Territory to the Moomba gas supply hub in South Australia is expected to deliver up to 124TJ of gas a day and reduce the transportation costs for Central Petroleum.

Contracts awarded

Easternwell Group Operations was contracted to recomplete four existing wells and drill two new development wells at the Mereenie field in March 2021.

Easternwell Group Operations’ Rig 27 will be deployed for the well recompletion activity which is expected to start in April 2021, followed by the commencement of drilling of the first production well in May 2021.