Senex, Surat Basin, coal seam gas, resources industry, oil and gas, southwest Queensland.
Senex, Surat Basin, coal seam gas, resources industry, oil and gas, southwest Queensland.

Outperformance keeps Senex powering on during COVID-19

RESPONDING to coronavirus has been an unprecedented challenge for the whole resources industry, but the big changes haven’t spelled out doom and gloom for Senex.

Industry standard COVID-19 protocols are well and truly in place, and its latest quarterly report shows Surat Basin operations are thriving despite difficult economic times, with the Roma North facility outperforming expectations so far this year.

Senex managing director and CEO Ian Davies said the company is still moving forward with their new health precautions in place, and activities haven’t been hampered to a great extent.

“(COVID-19) has affected every business in one way or another, and the oil and gas industry is characterised by remote operations and its remote workers,” he said.

“Making sure the health and safety of our employees and communities is at the forefront, and we have put in a huge number of protocols in place.

“We as an industry have agreed on protocols with the state and federal governments, for things like temperature checks, travel restrictions, and removing interstate travel, so we don’t have people from other states travelling in to our operations.”

Most Senex operations have been able to continue as normal during the pandemic, thanks to the local Surat Basin workforce.

Mr Davies said the company’s early push to hire local has been a boon for its operations around the region, as nearby residents aren’t travelling from virus hot spots.

“One of our focuses upfront was to have as much local employment as possible, and I think without exception, all of our operators live in the Chinchilla and Roma regions,” he said.

“Not only that, our construction, supervision and more transient workforce are generally locals, or are coming from Brisbane.

“From that point of view we were fortunate to have planned ahead with what makes sense for us, and then easily implement field access arrangements, hygiene policies, social distancing and things like that.”

Senex’s two major Surat Basin projects, Roma North and Project Atlas (Wandoan), have posted promising output figures this quarter: Roma North is producing above nameplate capacity at bout 18TJ per day, contributing to the regional total of about 29TJ per day.

The local operations are tracking well to reach their full target of 48TJ per day, even after a reduction in the drilling program; Roma North’s outperformance has meant only 35 wells will need sinking, instead of the planned 50.

In Wandoan, Project Atlas is being scaled down to 50 wells, down from the original 60.

While much of the work to reach the outperforming gas flows was done before the coronavirus outbreak, there is still more to be done.

Mr Davies said he is confident that Senex will keep powering on during the coronavirus pandemic without too much disruption.

“The existing wells which were drilled before this thing happened are just being brought online, and that is a reasonably simple task, because the gathering networks have already been put in,” he said.

“Once the wells are online, they have performed really well, so we have been able to keep that production online as an essential service for the domestic gas market.

“However, we are going to feel the effects of that (COVID-19) in this current quarter if there are delays to construction crews.

“We’re not anticipating any at this point, but we take it very seriously; for now we have been fortunate that everyone is healthy and well, and the social distancing and hygiene measures are being followed.

“We haven’t seen any material impacts thus far, but it is where we need to keep vigilant.”

Moving forward during uncertain times, both Roma North and Project Atlas are inching closer to completion, and could even finish a few weeks ahead of schedule, according to Mr Davies.

Most of the major construction work is tipped to finish in August, but he said other projects are in the pipeline.

“Once the construction and drilling is complete, there will no about be a large number of contractor crews demobilised,” he said.

“After August, we are busily planning what’s next, and all the things which will come in to play with the COVID-19 response.

“It will depend on the general economic conditions, oil prices, and the effect it has on our company as well as suppliers because of all this.”

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