Norway's giant Heidrun platform has been cristened by its operator, Conoco, and is set for tow out and installation later this month in the Norwegian Sea in 350 meters water. The first floating production platform built entirely of concrete, the Heidrun TLP weighs 220,000 tons. Once installed on the Heidrun Field, it will be the northernmost oil and gas field ever developed - at 70 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Russia's Lukoil is growing ever larger, via the ever-popular presidential decree. In doing so, it is absorbing five more production associations, including Kaliningradmorneftegaz, one of just two Russian offshore producers. (Sakhalinmorneftegaz is the other.)
China's BPMG Bureau of Petroleum & Marine Geology, long a behind-the-scenes player in oil and gas developments involving foreign companies, has now been given authority to enter into the agreements itself. It will function on the same level as CNOOC, with responsibility for both onshore and offshore provinces. BPMG's current focus is the East China Sea's Baoyunting Field, southeast of Shanghai.
India offering ownership majorities in joint ventures to develop frontier and deepwater fields is a first. Both ONGC and OIL will enter into minority partnerships with foreign companies to explore and develop high-risk, high-reward areas. The government is retaining the right to buy crude production at international prices.
Australia's Bellerophon prospect on the Northwest Shelf, is being turned over to Apache by Carnarvon Petroleum. Now operator, Apache estimates the prospect holds approximately 200 million bbl oil. The company was to drill its first Bellerophon well last month.
Israeli Mediterranean exploration has proven unsuccessful to date, but Isramco, the nearest thing to an Israeli state oil company, isn't giving up. Fires ravaged the Yam Yafo 1 drilling rig last October, and drilling was abandoned, then the company drilled the dry hole Yam Ma'arav 1 in November and Negev Nirim in January. New sites are now being considered.
Azerbaijani state oil company Socar has sold a 5% stake in the country's giant Azeri project to Exxon, which also promised to help Socar finance its remaining interest. Although the transaction must be approved by other partners, it is expected to pass, leaving Socar with 15% that may well be sold as well - perhaps to Shell and Elf.
Russia's Caspian aquatory is to be explored and developed, at least in part, by that country's independent oil company, Lukoil. An E&P contract was signed in April that will allow the company to survey and then produce both oil and gas from the Astrakhan region of the northern Caspian Sea.
Kazakhstani Caspian seismic acquisition commenced last month for an 18-month program set to be completed in October 1996. The shallow northern sector is being shot by Western Geophysical, the deeper southern sector by DG Seis, a Digicon-Lukoil joint venture. More than 35,000 sq km will be shot, with interpretation over the following year. Thereafter, members of the North Caspian Consortium (Agip, British Gas Mobil, Shell, Statoil/BP, and Total) will be given first choice of blocks, with the rest put up for bid. It's said that Amoco, Elf, and Exxon also want to join the group.
Turkmenistan's Caspian fields have begun to flow again. Larmag, the Nether-lands-based operator of a 50/50 joint venture with NGDU Chelekeneft, lifted the first oil for export from Turkmenistan since the early 20th century. Larmag's Block II is now producing 11,000 b/d, with a target production of 80,000 b/d after full development.
Cte d'Ivoire's remarkable aquatory continues to produce discoveries. United Meridian has announced another find on its Lion Field, Block CI-11. The Lion B-1 well logged 133 ft of oil sand pay at 9,950 ft in the Albian formation and encountered a new gas zone. One mile from the Lion A-1 discovery well, the B-1 strike significantly extends the Lion Field. It tested 5,460 b/d oil and 4.02 MMcf/d gas.
An exploratory Tunisian well drilled by Noble Affiliates on its 1.2 million acre Cap Bon Marin permit area struck pay at a combined flow rate of 4,540 b/d oil equivalent. Samedan Oil, a Noble subsidiary, is the operator, with Neste holding the remaining 50%.
South Africa's first oil field, the E-BT Field, off the coast of Western Cape province, will be onstream in the first quarter of next year, according to the South African state oil company Soekor and its partner Engen. Production, expected to reach 20,000 b/d oil, will be to an FPS.
Alaska's North Star development is planned by BP. In a three-year, $12 million program, BP will undertake an environmental impact study, then conduct a 3D seismic survey in 1996 to delineate the reservoir and determine drilling sites. Production startup for the 200 million bbl field has yet to be set.
Florida's feisty Coastal Petroleum may be drilling for oil and gas in the Apalachicola area of the Florida Gulf of Mexico before yearend. A district judge has ruled the state Attorney General must issue a permit to drill in state waters, where Coastal holds leases for more than 800,000 acres.
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