Jan. 1, 2000
For the first time, Petrovietnam, Vietnam's state oil company, has taken interests in two overseas exploration projects.

Petrovietnam moving beyond boundary

For the first time, Petrovietnam, Vietnam's state oil company, has taken interests in two overseas exploration projects. While specifics have not been released, it is known that the company has taken a stake in a project in Mongolia and offshore Malaysia. In the deals, the state company will partner with Soco Vietnam for the work in Mongolia and join with Amerada Hess offshore Malaysia. Both Soco and Amerada Hess were members of a consortium that signed an exploration contract in Block 16-1 offshore Vietnam.

Australia: Legendre license awarded

Following approval of the A$110 Legendre Fields development in WA-1-P offshore Western Australia's North West Shelf by the joint venture partners in October, the government has awarded a production license. The development plan includes four horizontal production wells - three on the Legendre North Field and one on the Legendre South Field. The wells will tie into a mobile offshore production unit operated by Oceaneering International.

Oceaneering recently signed a construction contract for converting a unit for the project with US-based Friede Goldman Offshore. The company will convert the Marine 7 jackup rig into a production unit. Oceaneering is under a primary three-year term day rate contract with the partners having the option to extend the primary term to five years within the first year of the contract.

The fields will produce 40,000 b/d of oil beginning mid-next year with the associated gas re-injected. Recoverable reserves for Legendre are estimated to be 40.4 million bbl. Partners in the joint venture include: Woodside (45.9%), Apache (31.5%), and Santos (22.6%).

Indonesia: Unocal adds two to deepwater

Unocal has almost single-handedly proven the prospectivity of Indonesia as a major deepwater play. Since it began an exploration program in 1998, the company has made three major Upper-Miocene deepwater discoveries off Indonesia. Now, it has added two additional discoveries, bringing the total to five in just a short period of time.

The company has added the Bangka and Aton prospects to its already impressive list of finds in the area. The prospects are located in the Rapak Production Sharing Contract area (the location of the Janaka North #1 discovery in June of 1999) just north of the West Seno Field, in the deepwater Kutei Basin.

The Legendre Fields development concept offshore Western Australia's North West Shelf.
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Bangka was discovered with the Bangka #2 well that was drilled to 9,752 ft in 3,191 ft water depth. The well discovered 367 net ft of liquid-rich gas pay confined to two zones of high-quality reservoir rock with hydrocarbon columns greater than 500 ft in the Upper Miocene. The company followed with the Bangka #4 well which was drilled downstructure to 11,656 ft and encountered 38 ft of net oil and gas pay.

Aton is located southeast of Bangka #2. The Aton 3 well was drilled to 8,465 ft in 3,826 ft water depth encountering 255 ft of high quality reservoir and 80 ft of oil and gas pay. The follow-up Aton #1 well was drilled to 12,465 ft and encountered 59 ft of net oil and gas pay in two zones.

These discoveries add to the company's nearby Merah Besar and West Seno discoveries which have received approval for plans of development and also add to the Janaka North which is still under evaluation.

Unocal is in the process of drilling the Bangka #5 well some 3.5 miles northwest of Bangka #2, in addition to wells planned for Janaka North and the Nakula prospect. One well has been previously drilled on Nakula, Nakula #1, which was drilled in 5,312 ft water depth, the deepest to date, but information is not available. The company also is in the process of drilling two to four Middle Miocene tests on large anticlines in the Ganal PSC, which is located south of the Makassar productive trend.

Elsewhere in the theater, Unocal is boosting activity. The company, with operator PTT, drilled a discovery in the Gulf of Thailand on Block 15A with the Arthit-15-1X well. The well confirmed net pay of 462 ft in 35 gas-bearing zones. In addition, they announced plans to invest an additional $125 to $150 million in Thai projects this year, with most of the money slated for gas exploration and production.

India also targeting deepwater potential

Indian state controlled Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) is following up the country's deepest discovery to date with a push for the deepwater. Last year, the company made the G-1AA discovery in the Krishna Godavari Basin in 260 meters water depth following two failed attempts. The well was a commercial success and is expected to produce 3,000 b/d of oil. ONGC followed up with an additional well in the same structure about 15 miles away with no results. However, while the company is re-assessing the reservoir, it has spudded its deepest well to date in 900 meters in the Kerala Konkan Basin.

The company is drilling with the upgraded Sagar Vijay semisubmersible rated for 900 meters water depth. ONGC is extremely optimistic about the well and has said that if a discovery is encountered, the company would continue to drill with the rig in the area and hire additional deepwater rigs to continue the deep water push.

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Also, results for the first New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) bidding round are expected soon. According to reports, 45 bids on 27 blocks were received by the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas for evaluation. This was the most bids ever received for a licensing round in the country, while at the same the most blocks ever on offer. While the results are not out as to who bid, it is known that multiple bids were received for 7 out of the 12 deepwater blocks on offer. In addition, two of the largest bidders were ONGC, which independently bid for seven blocks, and Reliance Oil, which bid on 15 blocks.