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ADX Energy research funding to fast-track Welchau plans

Updated: Mar 25

The Alpine Fold Belt where ADX Energy will investigate structural traps. Credit: File.

ADX Energy has confirmed $600,000 in research funding from the Austrian Science Fund to explore its structural geology and sustainable development options in a major scientific project at its Welchau gas play.

The two-pronged investigation will support at least one PhD thesis as ADX moves to align its Welchau development options with the United Nations’ sustainable development goals.

The company says the structural geology component of the work will be completed by leading Austrian research scientists associated with the University of Vienna, utilising leading-edge investigation methods to help better understand the geological evolution of the Alpine fold belt hosting the Welchau gas trap.

I am proud to report the science funding support and the attention of the Austrian Science Community which has been attracted to the Welchau project which is a result of the exceptionally high standard of our in-house geoscience team. ADX will immediately benefit by a deeper understanding of the Welchau prospect as well as a number of already identified follow up prospects in the Welchau Area. In the longer term, the surrounding communities could benefit for many years from potential future sustainable energy applications such as geothermal energy generation and energy storage. The environmental sustainability element of the work is intended to demonstrate the ability to develop a major energy resource project with a minimal impact on the environment. ADX Energy chief executive officer Paul Fink.

Welchau sits in the Northern Calcareous Alps, a region of large-scale structural shortening created when the northward-moving African tectonic plate collided with the Eurasian plate, exerting pressure on the sediments of an ocean that sat between them. The sediments faulted and folded into a swarm of structures, providing trapping features which accumulate buoyant hydrocarbons sourced from deeper rocks.

Structure is an important factor for the Welchau gas play. Management believes it could be connected to the Molln-1 reservoir and that the upcoming Welchau-1 well will drill at an up-dip or higher location on the trapping structure.

The main reservoir interval is a fractured carbonate, deposited during the Triassic Period and trapped in a trending ramp anticline, with more than a 20km lateral extent and 100-square-kilometre maximum closure area.

The company says the work may assist in identifying more structural traps in the greater Welchau area and may also support future energy options such as geothermal, in addition to locating large underground storage locations for gasses such as hydrogen.

The environmental sustainability research project will aim to position Welchau development options in line with one of the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals. The specific goal in question is to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

ADX says Welchau is a key piece of the energy transition puzzle for the European Union, as natural gas is regarded as an important transitional energy source. The company says it will top up the funding for the $750,000 environmental research project, which will aim to identify the best practice for sustainable development at Welchau with a view to minimising environmental impact, while maximising social and economic benefits.

Earlier this month, the company gained crucial government approval for drilling and testing the Welchau-1 well, which it says will take place between October 1 and March 31 next year. As part of an energy investment agreement, its joint venture partner, Canadian-listed MCF Energy, has to fund half of the cost of the Welchau-1 well to earn a 20 per cent economic interest in the Welchau investment area.

With a best technical estimate of 807 billion cubic feet of gas equivalent (bcfe) and a high-case estimate of 1631 bcfe of prospective recoverable gas, Welchau is no slouch. It sits shallow at about 1120m below the surface and is close to access roads and only about an 18km tie–in distance from Austria’s national gas pipeline network.

The Welchau area may prove to be a significant player in the European energy space. ADX recently added four additional leads around Welchau on the back of a technical evaluation – and the upcoming structural interrogation of the greater area may add even more.

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