(EnergyAsia, October 25 2012, Thursday) — Australian upstream company Santos made two landmark announcements the past week.

It has claimed the country’s first production of natural gas from shale as well as admitted the first Asian businessman into its board of directors.

Santos said its Moomba-191 shale well in the Cooper Basin is producing around 2.7 million standard cubic feet/day (mmscf/d) of natural gas.

James Baulderstone, Santos’ vice president for Eastern Australia, said the production represented another milestone for its Cooper Basin unconventional gas programme which began in 2004.

“The connection of the Moomba-191 well is a significant step forward as we work to unlock the vast unconventional potential of the Cooper Basin,” he said.

“Producing commercial quantities of natural gas from the Cooper’s shale rock formations would provide the potential for ongoing energy security for South Australia and our eastern states, plus valuable export revenue.

“The well was only 350 metres from the existing pipeline network and eight kilometres from Moomba’s gas processing plant, which enabled it to be brought on line quickly, illustrating the importance of Santos’ existing infrastructure position in commercialising the region’s significant resource potential.”

The company is planning to expand drilling in the area that will include an ongoing vertical well appraisal programme and a first horizontal shale well for early 2013.

Santos has a 66.6% interest in the South Australian Cooper Basin Joint Venture. Its partners are Beach Energy (20.21%) and Origin Energy (13.19%).

In a separate announcement reflecting the company’s growing ties with Asia, Santos has appointed a Singaporean businessman to its nine-member board of directors.

Hock Goh, the chairman of Australia-based MEC Resources and Advent Energy Ltd, and Singapore-based NetGain Systems Pte Ltd, is the first Asian board member in Santos’ history.

The 57-year-old trained mechanical engineer who was appointed an independent non-executive director has had a 25-year career with Schlumberger, a leading oilfield services company, where he held senior positions in Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

Santos chairman Peter Coates said:

“It is very pleasing to appoint a new director with such notable experience across Asia. I am confident Mr Goh’s extensive background will be invaluable as we seek to grow Santos’ businesses in the region.”