Petrobras, never to be outdone by its neighbors to the north, has broken yet another deepwater record. Following its world record for oil production in 6,079 ft of water with the Roncador Field earlier this year, the company has broken the world water depth drilling record by spudding well 1-RJS-538 in the Campos Basin in 8,016 ft of water. This well eclipses previous record-holder, Chevron, with the Atwater Valley Block 118 well (7,718 ft water depth) in the Gulf of Mexico drilled with Global Marine's Glomar Explorer drillship.
The well was spudded in May using Noble Drilling's Paul Wolff deepwater semisubmersible. The Paul Wolff is the second of Noble's EVA-4000 conversions to enter service. The rig is equipped to drill in 8,800 ft of water in full dynamic positioning (DP) mode or 6,000 ft of water conventionally moored.
The EVA-4000 design entails a conversion from a three-column submersible to a semisubmersible, equivalent to that of a current third or fourth generation unit. The DP system, with which the record well was drilled, is a six by 5,000 hp thruster system. The vessel also features a nine-point mooring system consisting of 4,200 ft of 2-3/4 in. RQ3 chain and 8,000 ft of 3-1/8 in. wire rope. This dual system offers the vessel complete water depth versatility.
The Paul Wolff was converted at the TDI-Halter yard in Sabine Pass, Texas, and underwent final outfitting and commissioning at the Friede Goldman Offshore - West yard in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The rig is under contract to Petrobras for six years.
Nigeria resolving maritime disputes
Nigeria is on the road to change. The country recently inaugurated its first civilian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, who holds a strong stance on cleaning up corruption in the country, and has settled one of two ongoing boundary disputes.
The country has been in dispute over two areas.
- A five-year-long disagreement with Cameroon over the Bakassi Peninsula may be close to settlement. Although the dispute is in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the two countries have agreed to seek a peaceful resolution "in the spirit of African brotherhood."
- A dispute between Nigerian and its other neighbor, Equatorial Guinea, has been settled. Under the resolution, Nigeria has relinquished all rights to Mobil's 300 million bbl Zafiro Field, which straddles the two countries borders and is Equatorial Guinea's only oil producer. In return, Nigeria has been granted the borderline as it extends to the deeper offshore area.
The disputed Nigerian-Equatorial Guinea border has been resolved. Equatorial Guinea gets the Zafiro and Nigeria gets the deepwater border.
This area includes Elf's deepwater Ukot-1 find. Ukot-1 is estimated to hold 600 million bbl of oil in water depths ranging from 200 meters to 2,000 meters, and has confirmed the potential of the area.
Fourth Gulf of Mexico subsalt field onstream
Texaco and Chevron have inaugurated the fourth producing subsalt field in the Gulf of Mexico. The companies have brought the Gemini Field onstream in Mississippi Canyon Blocks 292 and 247 in 3,400 ft of water. Initial flow rates from the field were 77 MMcf/d of gas and 1,500 b/d of condensate from one well. Peak production is estimated to reach 150-200 MMcf/d of gas and 2,000-3,000 b/d of condensate with two additional wells by the end of this year.
Production is being handled through a subsea development tied into a platform located in Viosca Knoll Block 900. With the addition of the two more wells, Gemini will become one of the largest subsea projects currently producing gas and condensate in the Gulf of Mexico.
Gemini is also one of the first deepwater subsalt projects in the Gulf of Mexico. The field's reserves lie beneath more than 3,000 ft of shallow salt. Startup of the field follows behind the Mahogany, Enchilada, and Agate fields as the fourth producing subsalt field. The deepest subsalt discovery to date in the Gulf of Mexico is Shell's Mickey Field in 4,300 ft water depth in Mississippi Canyon 211, which remains undeveloped.
Texaco and Chevron have brought Gemini onstream in the Gulf of Mexico. Gemini marks the fourth producing subsalt discovery in the region following Mahogany, Enchilada and Agate.
Texaco and Chevron originally discovered the field in 1995 and fast-tracked the development in 18 months following project approval. Total reserves for the field are estimated to be 250-300 Bcf of gas and 3-4 million bbl of condensate. Texaco is the operator of the field with a 60% interest; Chevron holds the remaining 40%.
India extending deadline
The government of India has not received the kind of response anticipated for its new bidding round. In January, the government opened the first bidding round for 48 exploration blocks under the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP), which offers the most attractive licensing terms in the country's history, and was set to close on May 18. However, the government contends that while interest in the offering has been strong, it had received requests to extend the bid. Consequently, the bidding round has been extended by three months and will close on August 18.
The Indian government held roadshows at the beginning of the year in New Delhi, London, Houston, Calgary, Singapore, and Perth, promoting the round and said that over 500 participants from about 300 companies were in attendance. The government added that in regard to the deadline extension, all other terms and conditions would remain the same as previously announced.