•Nearly two dozen Nigerian companies have begun looking for oil following a government release of marginal field allocations. Though the initiative looks positive, there is some skepticism that it will attract more companies to invest, particularly because financing through Nigerian banks could be an obstacle.
This is of particular concern at a time when OPEC has cut quotas, bringing Nigeria's daily allowance to 1.79 MMb/d from 1.9 MMb/d.
Even though Nigeria hasn't been known for scrupulously meeting OPEC output limits, investors in the region need to consider the ramifications of the cuts. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corp.'s response to the new OPEC numbers was to reduce the amount of money allocated to support multi-national joint ventures by 20%.
Despite this setback, Chevron Nigeria Ltd. said it still planned to drill two wells before the end of the year in OPL 222. More drilling is already scheduled to begin late next year or early the following year in OPL 250. Because these deepwater developments will be long-term projects, the hope is that the near-term impact of the OPEC cuts will not negatively affect them.
•In September, Woodside Petroleum announced that its Chinguetti-4-2 oil well off Mauritania had flowed at a maximum rate of 1,560 b/d in a production test. The company said production was constrained by sand and that under the proper conditions, the well could achieve higher flow rates. In early November, Woodside made another announcement about the field. The Chinguetti 4-4 appraisal well yielded better than anticipated results, pushing reserves well beyond the initial 110 MMbbl estimate. These numbers have led to the speculation that the discovery could move into development, poss-ibly producing oil in three years.
Woodside operates the Chinguetti field with 35% interest. Partners are Hardman Resources with 21.6%, Fusion Oil & Gas 6%, Roc Oil (Mauritania) Co. 2.4%, and Eni Agip British Borneo Ltd. 35%.
Exploration activity in the Caspian Sea moved ahead in 3Q 2002 with two new oil discoveries, a completed 3D seismic survey, and an ongoing deepwater survey expected to be finalized by year-end.
ExxonMobil Kazakhstan Inc. participated in a new oil discovery in the Kazakhstan sector of the Caspian Sea. The discovery is in the Kalamkas structural feature, 50 mi southwest of the Kashagan East No. 1 discovery. The shallow-water Kalamkas-1 discovery well, drilled in 28 ft of water, has not been fully evaluated.
ExxonMobil holds a 16.67% interest, with operator Eni holding 16.67%, BG 16.67%, Inpex 8.33%, ConocoPhillips 8.33%, Shell 16.67%, and TotalFinaElf 16.67%.
In the Turkmen sector of the Caspian Sea, Dragon Oil completed testing its fourth development well, Lam 22-104, in its redevelopment program on the Lam field. The well, the third in the Cheleken block to be put into production this year, tested at a cumulative rate of 3,956 b/d of oil. The well was completed in five zones and is producing oil from the upper two. Added volume from the Cheleken block puts Turkmenistan closer to its target of 15,000 b/d by the end of 2002.
While exploration and production activities move forward in the western segment of the sea, more seismic activity has been taking place to the east. In early October, Caspian Geophysical, a joint venture between WesternGeco and the state oil company of Azerbaijan Republic, completed a 4C, 3D seismic survey over the BP-operated Azeri field.
This is the first time a data acquisition company has managed successful imaging beneath a mud volcano, many of which populate the floor of the Caspian Sea.
In late September, BP awarded Caspian Geophysical another contract for a 4C, 3D seismic survey over the deepwater segment of the Gunashli field in the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli PSA. This survey is to be completed late in December or early January 2003.