But now the company is back in the game, taking a position in Indonesia.
The junior is buying up to 20% in the Duyung production sharing contract from Conrad Petroleum.
The block offers immediate exposure to the Mako shallow gas discovery and near-term drilling in the West Natuna Basin, one of Asia's most prolific proven areas, close to Singaporean, Malaysian and Indonesian pipelines, and is located in water depths of 60-110 metres.
According to RISC, power generation is forecast to be the biggest source of gas demand and account for 35% of the 35,000 MW power acceleration programme to be built between 2014 and 2019 in the immediate region, with Indonesian gas demand expected to grow strongly over the next decade, despite being the seventh largest producer of LNG in the world.
Mako South-1 is planned to spud by early next quarter and will test a step-out potential for the gas field that was originally discovered in the 1970s and appraised in the late 1990s.
Empyrean will be buying into the permit from the Singapore-based Conrad, a company headed up by former Pryme Energy CEO Justin Pettit and former Mubadala Petroleum and Woodside Petroleum executive David Johnson.
Mako hosts to host between 400Bcf and 1.3 trillion cubic feet, but has never been properly tested despite three well penetrations as two of the wells were targeting deeper oil and the third well, specifically targeting gas, encountered technical difficulties.
The entire Duyung permit has the potential for 4Tcf of gas and 120 million barrels in seismically defined structures.
Initially Empyrean will pick up a 10% interest for $US2 million, moving to 20% for a further $2 million payment by May 12.
Conrad will step down to an 80% operated interest in the block.
The funds will be applied to the costs of Mako South-1, expected to be $6.5 million, and the balance of $2.5 million will be met pro-rata.
The last exploration initiative in the area was the analysis of existing 2D and 3D seismic data which was acquired in 2008 and 2009.
Conrad commissioned LEAP Energy to conduct a review of the prospectivity and it attributed 2C and 3C resources of 433Bcf and 646Bcf of recoverable gas.
The basin has nearby infrastructure to support any development, so the new team will spud Mako South-1 with the aim of specifically targeting and flowing the IntraMuda sands and collect key data on the permeability and gas saturation properties of the reservoir.
Empyrean has sufficient cast to meet its Indonesian and Chinese project expenses, including $3 million earmarked for the proposed 3D seismic program Block 29/11 in the Pearl River Mouth Basin, offshore China, but it considers raising additional capital is prudent.
The Chinese permit, Block 29/11, was secured last year from CNOOC, is close to known discoveries, and has two defined prospects, Jade and Topaz, based on vintage 2D seismic plus 10 leads to follow up.
Empyrean, which returned the bulk of the capital from its $71.5 million Sugarloaf sale to shareholders, will be seeking to raise the additional funds on the Alternative Investment Market.