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WHL Energy's Radar Glued To Palta-1 Drilling

WHL Energy's (ASX: WHN) interest in Shell's upcoming Palta-1 exploration well in the Exmouth Sub-Basin offshore Western Australia is grounded in the value that it will provide in the success case.

The Palta prospect in WA-384-P is estimated to host up to 13.5 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of gas of which 2.5Tcf is mapped by WHL to be located within its WA-460-P permit, located within the northern portion of WA-384-P.

As noted by Hartleys earlier this week, this 2.5Tcf resource is worth about A$0.048 per share to WHL, assuming a A$1 per thousand cubic feet exploration value and a 10% possibility of success.

In a success, this could be worth up to A$0.48.

Analysis: Peering into the crystal ball

While further value will only be realised if WHL and its partners operator Strike Energy (ASX: STX) and Cottesloe Oil & Gas drill their own well in WA-460-P, a success by Shell would go a long way towards de-risking its own exploration, whether on their mapped portion of Palta or other prospects in the permit.

It could also assist with the placement of the minimum 81 square kilometres of 3D seismic that the joint venture is required to shoot in 2014.

Importantly, success in proving the mapping of Palta into WA-460-P could open the way for unitisation agreements.

This would allow WHL and its partners to become part of a broader Palta development, creating a commercialisation pathway guided by one of the world's top three largest oil and gas companies.

Such an occurrence will provide a major uptick in WHL's valuation.

At its current share price of A$0.036 and market capitalisation of A$50.65 million, WHL provides investors with an opportunity to get aboard ahead of drilling.


Shell is expected to spud Palta-1 in the next seven to eight days using the Noble Clyde Boudreaux semi-submersible drilling rig.

The well is located in water depths of about 1,350 metres and will be drilled to a total depth of more than 5,000 metres.

Drilling cost is estimated at between $60 million and $80 million, indicating that Shell has high expectations for the well.

Exmouth Sub-Basin

WA-460-P is located 70 km west of Cape Range in the Exmouth Sub-Basin, a major producing oil and gas province.

The Sub-Basin is the southern most in a series of Jurassic depocentres that form the northern Northern Carnarvon Basin. Oil production commenced in the Exmouth Sub-basin in 2006 and since 1993, 11 oil and gas accumulations of the productive 'Dingo-Barrow' petroleum system have been discovered to the east of WA-460-P.

The extensive 'Locker/Mungaroo-Mungaroo/Barrow' petroleum system, which has sourced some of the giant gas fields in the Northern Carnarvon Basin, was proven within the area with the discovery of gas in the Mungaroo Formation at Falcone 1A north of WA-460-P in 2005.

WHL holds a 33.3% interest in WA-460-P.

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