Deepwater Côte d'Ivoire proves disappointing

Dec. 1, 1999
The disappointing results of the East Grand Lahou-1 (1,000 meters water depth) may have crushed many expectations about the prospectivity of deepwater Côte d'Ivoire.

The disappointing results of the East Grand Lahou-1 (1,000 meters water depth) may have crushed many expectations about the prospectivity of deepwater Côte d'Ivoire.

Most geologic analyses had predicted that the deepwater Abidjan Margin was likely to be far more prospective than the basin's continental shelf.

But after so much anxiety, heightened by six months of search for a rig, Ocean Energy's first deepwater well offshore Côte d'Ivoire turned out to be depressingly dry. The well was plugged and abandoned at 11,781 ft. The Deepwater Frontier drillship was used to spud the well in early September, after the Ocean Energy/Shell partnership had waited for the Sedco 709, which is drilling a series of wells in deepwater Nigeria.

East Grand Lahou-1 is the highest ranked of three giant prospects, each of which appeared capable of holding as much oil as the Elf's famous Girassol Field in deepwater Angola. Richard Mitchel, Vice President of Ocean Energy in Côte d'Ivoire, actually said that the prospects could hold up to 1 billion bbl each. The two other prospects, apart from East Grand Lahou, are the Entente and Bandana structures. While the East Grand Lahou and the Entente prospects are four-way closures bounded by transform faults, the Bandana is a huge channel, which was ranked lower than the two others because it is essentially a stratigraphic play.

Elf pushes forward on Amenam field

Elf Nigeria is finally pushing forward in the development of its huge Amenam field offshore Nigeria. The contracts for the development are expected to be awarded by the end of December. The field development plan calls for a new floating storage and offloading terminal with a capacity of 2.4 million bbl and a production handling capacity of over 200,000 b/d of oil. A total of 31 wells would be drilled. The cost of development is estimated at $1 billion.

Controversy over who should operate the 800 million bbl field, which straddles both Elf (OML 99) and Mobil (OML 67) concessions - coupled with depressed oil prices - had slowed down the implementation of the field development plan drawn up by Elf in 1996. The Department of Petroleum Resources arbitrated the operatorship dispute. Now, it has been agreed that Mobil holds 8% of the field, so Elf will be the operator.

When it was discovered in 1992, Amenam was touted as the biggest find in 10 years. Elf prepared to award all the major engineering, procurement, construction, and installation contracts between November and December, 1999.

Amenam is capable of producing 100,000 b/d of oil for 25 years. Production start-up is scheduled for mid-2000 at a production rate of about 100,000 b/d. Elf has sought approval from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, which has a 60% stake in the lease OML 99, to finance the field development on a sole risk basis. If approved, this will nullify the need for Elf to depend on cash from NNPC, who is in the habit of delaying payments to joint venture partners such as Elf.

Vanco shoots 2D over Morocco

Vanco's seismic acquisition program on its Safi Haute Mer and Ras Tafelney permits offshore Morocco.
Click here to enlarge image

Vanco Energy has farmed-in a 60% interest in the Ras Tafelney permit off Morocco from Lasmo and has begun a 2D seismic survey. The permit covers 2.8 million acres and is directly south of the company's Safi Haute Mer permit. Water depths in the concession range between 100 and over 2,000 meters on the Tafelney Plateau.

Vanco has contracted Fugro-GeoTeam for the 2D shoot using the company's MV Geo Baltic vessel.

The program calls for 2,000 km over Safi Haute Mer and 1,500 km over Ras Tafelney. This is the company's second survey over Morocco in the past year. The first program was conducted in November of last year and created a reconnaissance grid for deeper Tertiary play concepts on Safi Haute Mer.

Lasmo retains a 40% interest in Ras Tefalney and will continue to serve as operator for the remainder of the exclusive reconnaissance permit. However, when an exploration permit is issued, Vanco will be granted operatorship.

Africa tops Chevron's production agenda

With Banzala and Kuito oil fields offshore Angola coming onstream by Christmas, Africa has come up high on the Chevron ranking for increased oil production worldwide. Benzala in shallow water in Block O came onstream in August, boosting Chevron's Angola production from 480,000 b/d of oil to 5000,000 b/d. With Kuito, (1,300 ft water depth) scheduled to come onstream in December, the figure will go up to 550,000 b/d. Kuito has historical importance - it is the first of the famous Angola deepwater fields to come onstream.

Chevron plans to grow international liquids production by 8-9% over the next four years, according to the company's house organ, Chevron World, and 40% of this will be coming from Africa. Chevron is producing oil in Nigeria, Angola, the Republic of Congo, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The journal says that Chevron and its partners plan to invest another $12 billion over the next five years.

"The African operations boast a trade record of steadily increasing production and one of most promising deepwater basins in the world," the journal claims. Chevron produces in excess of 1 million bbl of crude in Africa every day. Most of the oil comes from Angola and Nigeria, where output in each country is expected to reach 600,000 b/d by 2001 and 2003, respectively. "Kuito will be the 11th field Chevron has brought onstream in Africa since 1994. Three other significant fields have been discovered in deepwater Angola and oil was found in the same geologic trend offshore the Republic of Congo," the journal reported.

Triton changes Eq. Guinea profile

Triton's M'Bani-1 discovery in Equatorial Guinea will profoundly change the hydrocarbon map of the country. All the oil discoveries before now have been made in the Niger Delta Basin or in prospects so close by as to be influenced by the geology of the basin. But M'Bani-1 is located in Southern Rio Muni off to the south, very close to Gabon. The well tested 12,401 b/d of 30°API oil in a 47-meter interval with 897 FTP. The well was drilled on 2D data and Triton plans to shoot 3,000 sq km of 3D data to define the field. In the meantime, an appraisal well, M'Bani-2, was already spudded on 27th of October 1999 and is drilling.

Agbami is stuck in a test

The drillship Glomar Explorer, working for Texaco on Agbami-2 in the deepwater offshore Nigeria, was on downtime in the first week of November. The Glomar Explorer was testing the second oil zone in Agbami-2 when it developed an undisclosed mechanical problem.

Agbami-2 is located 1.6 km east-southeast of Agbami-1, in 4,973 ft water depth. Agbami-2 has been reported to be much better than Agami-1, encountering a new 120 ft net oil pay found to be water saturated in Agbami-1. Reports indicate that the Agbami structure contains recoverable reserves of 1.8 billion bbl, which would be Texaco's largest find in three decades.