The drill rig began drilling the well at 03:38 on March 10, it said.
It detailed that initially the well will be drilled to 1,500 feet at which point surface casing and blow-out preventer will be installed. This is due to take a week, before drilling then resumes down to a maximum target depth of around 6,000 feet. That phase of drilling will last for three to five days.
The well will subsequently be flow tested, subject to the initial results from wireline logging.
“Drilling has now commenced at Merlin-1, with results expected within the next 4 weeks,” said Dave Wall, managing director.
“This is an exciting and pivotal time for the company and our shareholders.”
88 Energy noted that its contribution to Merlin’s costs is expected to rise to around US$4mln, from prior estimates of US$1.4mln, with the company putting the blame on delays associated with US President Biden’s Executive Order, which impacted permitting, along with adverse weather.
It meanwhile highlighted that its cash position stands at around US$13mln, which more than covers its share of the drilling costs.
The company also noted that, given the operational delays, it is now considered unlikely that the proposed next well, Harrier-1, will be drilled this season.