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ADX Energy to test giant Welchau gas in Austrian reservoir

Updated: Mar 25

Clearing of ADX Energy’s Welchau-1 well pad. Credit: File

ADX Energy has broken ground in Austria in preparation for maiden drilling of the giant Welchau gas prospect in Upper Austria, which has a best technical prospective resource estimate of 807 billion cubic feet.

The first well in the structure, Welchau-1, follows up on an accidental 1989 hit at the Molln-1 well, which tested pipeline-quality gas at a rate of up to 3.5 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) down dip and in the same reservoir interval.

ADX says the RED Drilling & Services GmbH “E-202” drilling rig has now finished suspending the Anshof-2 well and has been released from that location to make its way about 20km south-east to drill Welchau-1, which sits in the picturesque foothills of the Austrian Alps. The well is expected to spud in February next year and is likely take six to eight weeks to drill.

The gas reservoir interval at Welchau is the Triassic Steinalm fractured carbonate, which has been folded and faulted into a structure giving about a 100-square-kilometre maximum closure area. The high-case prospective resource estimate for the structure is 1.631 trillion cubic feet (TCF) and the top of the reservoir is expected at about 1120m below the surface.

The gas-charged Steinalm carbonate was hit at just above 4000m by the Molln-1 well when drilled by OMV in its hunt for oil, on its way down to an Anshof-type play at about 5700m.

Molln-1 encountered a gas column of at least 400m, but downhole pressure measurements suggested it could be as big as 900m. The well’s flow test produced condensate-rich, pipeline-quality gas, with 40 barrels of condensate per million cubic feet of gas and a maximum flowrate of 3.5 MMcf/d.

OMV was not interested in gas in the late 1980s when prices were low and the market preferred oil to feed existing infrastructure. However, it is now a different case for the Austrian and European markets.

Russian gas still supplies the vast majority of Austria’s requirements – estimated at about 90 per cent of the nation’s total in October. Foreign trade statistics show that Austrian importers transferred some $394 million per month to Russia.

The import share of non-Russian sources consists largely of Norwegian gas and some from North Africa and Central Asia, with import routes through Germany and Italy.

The European Union is reducing its reliance on Russian gas, but supply and infrastructure constraints mean it could take more than three years to offset a full loss of Russian supply.

Austria is making big strides towards its renewables sector filling the energy gap, but securing domestic gas production is still high on the agenda. And Welchau is looming as a great candidate to play a role, with a giant resource, access to sealed roads and only about a 18km tie-in distance from Austria’s national gas pipeline network.

ADX holds an 80 per cent economic interest in the Welchau investment area, which contains the Welchau prospect and a swarm of other leads. Joint venture partner, Canadian-listed MCF Energy, will fund half the cost of Welcahu-1, budgeted at $5.9 million, to earn a 20 per cent interest in the Welchau investment area.

With the land being cleared and the drill pad prepared for rig arrival, the market will no doubt be looking forward to regular updates from ADX as Welchau-1 makes it way down.

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