Offshore operators targeting 30 high-impact wells in 2020

March 1, 2020
Rystad Energy has identified what it considers the top 30 high-impact wells that are expected to be drilled this year, with the lion’s share located in the Americas and Africa.

Rystad Energy has identified what it considers the top 30 high-impact wells that are expected to be drilled this year, with the lion’s share located in the Americas and Africa.

Five of the wells are in North America, seven in South America, and six in Africa. Of the remaining wells, four are scheduled to be drilled in Asia, three each in Oceania and the Middle East, and two in Europe.

Rystad classifies wells as high-impact through an assessment of key factors, including the size of the prospects, whether they could open new hydrocarbon plays in frontier or emerging basins, and their significance to the operator.

Shell and Eni will drill the Chibu and Ehecatl prospects in their respective blocks offshore Mexico, targeting a collective 350 MMboe of gross unrisked resources.

The seven high-impact wells scheduled to be drilled in South America will target gross predrill resources of more than 5 Bboe.

Among Africa’s high-impact wells, Guinea Bissau’s deepwater Atum well will target a potential 470 MMboe.

During the past three years, 95 high-impact wells have been drilled globally, with 40 of them resulting in discoveries – equating to a 42% success rate. In 2019, the success rate of the 35 high-impact wells drilled was only 31%.

Although 2019 was a disappointing year in terms of high-impact well drilling, comparatively stable market conditions are favoring new exploration activity in 2020 for areas that combine high risk and high rewards, according to the analyst.

Wood Mackenzie predicts several high-impact exploration wells across the Asia/Pacific region this year. According to Asia Pacific vice chair, Gavin Thompson, PTTEP’s Shwe Nadi well, in partnership with Total, will target deepwater gas in the Moattama basin off Myanmar. A success could help opening a new play in the Andaman Sea.

In 2019, PTTEP discovered at least 3 tcf of gas in the HP/HT Lang Lebah prospect offshore Sarawak. Thompson expected the company to look to move swiftly to develop the find through Malaysia’s LNG export infrastructure, just over 50 km (31 mi) away.

Elsewhere in the region, OMV’s deepwater Tawhiki-1 well will target oil in New Zealand’s Great South basin.

Others to watch will be Eni’s Đàn Đáy-1X well in Vietnam’s Song Hong basin, Repsol’s deepwater Rencong-1X well in the North Sumatra basin off Indonesia, and BP’s well on the potentially giant Ironbark prospect in Western Australia’s offshore North Carnarvon basin.

Some of the major players will also work on delineating recent finds, although proving commerciality may not be straightforward, Thompson suggested.

He instanced PTTEP’s Lang Lebah in Malaysia and Eni’s Ken Bau in Vietnam, both HP/HT accumulations with a mixture of carbon dioxide and/or hydrogen sulfide.

Appraisal drilling could prove crucial in establishing the scale of the technical and geological challenges involved, as well as confirming size and commerciality.

Meanwhile, offshore discoveries accounted for more than 60% of global discoveries in 2019, according to GlobalData.

The company’s report, ‘Q4 2019 Global Oil and Gas Discoveries Review – Russia and Mauritania Lead Resource Discovery in the Quarter’, reveals that while Colombia and Norway saw the highest number of discoveries drilled in 2019, Guyana, Mauritania, and Russia hosted the most significant finds. 

In Guyana, ExxonMobil drilled five discoveries in the deepwater Stabroek block. Following the additional well drilled in January 2020 (Uaru-1), the company has increased its estimated gross recoverable resources for the block to more than 8 Bboe. Tullow Oil also contributed to the country’s 2019 success with the drilling of the Jethro (deepwater) and Joe wells, in the Orinduik block.

The Mauritanian and Russian discoveries are both gas discoveries. In November 2019, BP announced the successful result of the deepwater Orca-1 well in Mauritania. In May 2019, Gazprom confirmed that its two wells (Dinkov and Nyarmeyskoye) drilled on the Kara Sea shelf held estimated combined reserves of 1.5 Bboe. •