Elf continuing deepwater run

Elf is continuing a bullish run on Angola's deepwater.

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Elf is continuing a bullish run on Angola's deepwater. The French firm spudded Camelia 1 in deepwater Block 17, immediately after completing the Cravo-1 discovery. The coordinates of the new well, which started on September 27, are not available, but it is targeting the same geological facies - shallow Miocene sands that have proven prolific in all of Elf's discoveries in the deep water off Angola. The results of Cravo-1 drilling are confidential. The well was drilled in a water depth of 4,455 ft, and reportedly suspended on September 20. Industry sources say the test yielded a flow rate of 5,000 b/d of oil. The same rig, semisubmersible Jim Cunningham, is drilling the Camelia 1 well.

In the same block, the Jacinto 1 well is scheduled to be spudded soon with the drillship Pride Africa. It's the rig's first assignment, with a five-year plus two-year option contract, for Elf in Angola. The vessel's sister ship, Pride Angola, left the Korean fabrication yard for Angola at the end of October.

Gabon may boost production levels

Gabon may increase oil production in 2000 by as much as 30,000 b/d, if there is no field decline or shut-in elsewhere in the country as two fields go onstream. Elf is proposing to put the Atora field (ex-RGA-11/Gamba) onstream by mid-2000. The field will likely kick off with a production rate of 15,000 b/d of oil. But more interesting is Marathon's Tchatamba South field in the Kowe offshore block, which began production in early September at 22,000 b/d of 44° API oil from two wells. Tentative plans are to bring Tchatamba West onstream next year, thus joining the Tchatamba Marin and Tchatamba South fields.

Moderate action in the Marine VI block

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The newbuild Pride Africa drillship, owned jointly by Pride International and Sonangol, will begin drilling its first well on Elf's prolific Block 17.
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Agip started a 230-sq-km 3D survey in August, over the Foukonda (Marine) discovery in Marine Block VI offshore Congo. They are using the Western Patriot S/V. The Foukonda area is among the three sub-units of the Marine Block VI which are being held by operating companies. The other two are the 89 sq km Djambala lease and the 185 sq km M'Wafi lease, which was signed in July. Partners to these leases are the operator Agip with 52%, Sasol 13%, and Hydrocongo 35%. Sasol is not involved in the M'Wafi sub-unit, where Agip discovered and suspended an oil well in December 1998.

NLNG issues force majeure

Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited issued a formal notice in late September of force majeure (inability to deliver) on its first export cargo in the aftermath of forced disruption in production. The first export cargo was scheduled to be delivered to Gaz de France on October 1, but youths from the Bonny Community, host of the $3.8 billion plant, laid siege to it six days after the plant began production.

The protest stopped after Nigeria's President, Olusegun Obasanjo, flew in from the United Nations summit in New York to personally attend to the crisis. The protesters damaged six of the nine water wells supplying the liquefaction process. The protesters were alleging the lack of opportunities for employment in the plant, among others.

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Marathon has brought the Tchatamba South Field in the greater Tchatamba complex offshore Gabon onstream at 22,000 b/d of oil.
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The protest follows a distinct pattern. Unemployed youths in villages where oil production activity is taking place routinely disrupt oil field activities by taking hostages and demanding hefty compensation from the oil companies to release the hostages. They argue that 43 years of oil production has polluted the environment and left communities impoverished.

The NLNG's force majeure effectively breaches the sales and purchase contract with European buyers, but it makes the company liable for fines. The NLNG can recoup the penalty, if it maintains delivery of all shipments to Gaz de France over the 22.5-year period. The company, under the "take or pay" term of the sales agreement, is supplying 500 million cubic meters of liquefied gas yearly.

Other European buyers and volumes of yearly delivery contracted are ENEL of Italy - 3.5 bcm; ENAGAS of Spain - 1.6 bcm; BOTAS of Turkey - 1.2 bcm; and TRANSGAS of Portugal - 350 MMcm. The company had produced about 60,000 metric tons of LNG to a storage tank before the crisis, but a spokesman said it was not sufficient for shipment to Gaz de France.

Chevron Nigeria changing leaders

Chevron's chairman, Ken Derr, 63, is retiring from the company at the end of the year, just as the CEO of the company's Nigerian affiliate, George Kirkland, moves back to the United States, and will replace Peter Robertson as president of Chevron North America E&P. Derr facilitated the takeover of the Gulf Corporation 14 years ago, in what was (then) regarded as the biggest oil industry merger, and will be succeeded on January 1, 2000 by Dave O' Reilly. Kirkland's replacement in Nigeria had not been named as of this writing. Bill Edman, Kirkland's predecessor in Nigeria, is now the corporation president for Chevron Latin America.

During Kirkland's tenure in Nigeria, crude oil production rose from 300,000 b/d to 440,000 b/d, and the business unit is on tract to raise production to 600,000 b/d by 2001.

Continental Oil discovery

Continental Oil encountered four hydrocarbon reservoirs in Otuo S2, a combined appraisal/development well in the shallow offshore OML 59, in the western Niger Delta. The shallowest and the deepest of these wells were most significant. The measured depth of the well is 2, 856 meters. The well was drilled on behalf of continental by Consolidated oil, which has a lease OPL 458 nearby OML 59.

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