The UK’s Heritage Oil has signed a rig contract with China’s Daqing International for a drilling rig to begin well exploration and appraisal drilling in the Miran block, in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

The first well in the company’s campaign, Miran West-3, is scheduled to begin drilling in July with an estimated total depth of about 3,800 metres, according to an 18 April company announcement.

Drilling and testing should take 160 days before the rig will be moved to the Miran West-4 appraisal well. Heritage Oil is currently looking for a second rig to drill the Miran East-1 exploration well in the fourth quarter of this year.

The Miran Block contains two large fields, Miran West and Miran East, which cover approximately 200 square kilometres and 130 sq km respectively. Drilling at the Miran West-2 appraisal well began in November 2009. The company estimates the Miran West structure to have between 6.8-9.1 trillion cubic feet (cf) of gas, while Miran East has as much as 0.9 trillion cf (MEED 30:1:11).

The Kurdistan Regional Government says it will prioritise satisfying local gas demand by supplying produced gas on commercial terms to local power stations and other end-users in the Sulymaniyah region in 2013.  Early production of the gas will also result in early associated condensate and oil production. This could then be followed by the export of gas to Turkey and on to Europe.

Heritage Energy Middle East, a subsidiary of Heritage Oil signed a production sharing contract with the KRG in October 2007. As the operator of the block, it holds a 75 per cent stake in the Miran Licence, while Turkey’s Genel Energy holds the remaining 25 per cent.