The companies have agreed on three drilling locations for the first phase of the drilling programme, which New Standard says is on track to start by mid-2012, with planning and procurement activities underway.
Well design and engineering is underway for the programme’s first well, Nicolay -1, on project area EP456, which is expected to spud in July and reach a total depth of about 3200 metres.
The well will be drilled by MB Century Rig 14, which was recently moved to the port of Darwin and will undergo quarantine and safety checks before being released to New Standard.
New Standard was on schedule to have the necessary infrastructure completed by the time the rig arrived, with similar preparatory work for the Gibb Maitland -1 and Blatchford -1 wells also underway.
All three wells will aim to find data to provide proof of concept for the project, to be acquired through full coring, mud-logging and a comprehensive suite of electric wireline logs.
The two companies also agreed to alter ConocoPhillips funding cap for the three wells to $13 million each, with New Standard to fund any cost overrun as well as 25% of scientific studies and formal evaluation work – estimated at a total cost of $5 million.
Under a farm-in deal signed last year, ConocoPhillips can earn into 75% of the project through funding four phases of staged exploration work, spending $109.5 million to do so.
New Standard will retain a 25% stake in the project.