West Africa

West Africa

Shell growing reserves in Bonga discovery

Shell Nigeria has pored over data from the new Bonga South West field, and everything indicates a much bigger field size than previously reported. Evaluations of the field, located 10 km southwest of the huge Bonga field, show it has recoverable reserves similar in size to the 600-million-bbl Bonga, which is now referred to within the company as "Bonga Main."

Shell announced the discovery Bonga SW1 well last May. Immediate evaluation at the time indicated a recoverable reserve estimate of 300 million bbl, or half the size of Bonga Main. Gbola Sobande, manager for Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (Snepco), said that the reserves at the new discovery in OPL 212 block are as large as those in the $2.4 billion Bonga development.

"It is comparable in size to the Bonga Main," Sobande stated. "You can look forward to another big project like the one we are putting together." The Bonga oil field is about 120 km off Nigerian shores in a water depth of 1,000 meters.

The new find lies in the same license area about 10 km south of the existing Bonga development. Snepco has not yet decided whether the new field would be produced using the facilities being put in place for Bonga Main. "We will have to carry out the front-end studies and feasibility studies, and look at options and all the rest before we take a final decision," Sobande said.

Bonga Main was discovered in 1995, and the investment decision was not made until five years after. It is expected to come onstream in 2003. "But of course, because Bonga Main was the first, it might (have taken) a bit longer for the investment decision to be made. In about two years, we should be able to (make a decision)."

Sobande stated further that the company has intensified exploration efforts in other parts of the same block, which has produced two giant fields, and OPL 219, another block that it operates. Shell operates the Bonga block with partners ExxonMobil (20%), Agip (12.5%), and Totalfina Elf (12.5%).

Zulu Marin dry hole another in series

The drillshipSaipem 10000 is becoming associated with dry wells, although it is certainly not the vessel's fault. For the fourth time in 2001, the drillship has pulled off a well labeled a dry hole. The latest casualty is Agip's Zulu Marine, located in MTP Nord, offshore Congo. The well was plugged and abandoned at a total depth of 3,179 meters, in a water depth of 2,320 meters.

Earlier, theSaipem 10000 drilled two wells back to back for Agip, off two countries along the West African fairway. The drillship drilled the Leao-1 in Block 25 off Angola to about 2,500 meters. The well was plugged and abandoned as dry on Feb. 9. From there, the drillship headed north to Congo to spud the Hiti Marine-1 well on Feb. 15.

The well was drilled to 3,500 meters in 35 days and abandoned on March 25 without a test. Then, theSaipem 10000 moved on to Gabon, where it drilled a record West Africa water depth well, the Judy-1, in a water depth of 2,791 meters, again for Agip. That well was also abandoned as dry.

Agip to try again in Kwanza deep

The Italian oil giant Agip is preparing to spud another well in the deepwater Kwanza basin off Angola. Agip will spud the Jaguar 1 well in Block 25 before year-end. The company's last well on the lease, Leao-1, was abandoned dry at a water depth of 1,620 meters. That result reinforced skepticism that the deepwater Kwanza Basin is far from being the oil gusher of northern Angola, where many fields have been found.

Such misgivings were countered by the result of ExxonMobil's Semba-1 in Block 24. Semba-1 tested at combined rates of 3,039 b/d of oil from two sands. The flow rates are not much to compare with the average for Angola's more popular deepwater finds, but they are an assurance of the oil engine in the deepwater Kwanza basin. As of early September, Agip was looking for the most optimum location to drill Jaguar.

Chevron ramps up the volume with N. Nemba

Chevron's Angola production received a boost in mid-August when the company started producing oil from the North Nemba Platform in shallow offshore Block 0. North Nemba is expected to reach peak production of about 50,000 b/d during 2Q 2002, and to produce an average of about 40,000 b/d for the year 2002.

North Nemba crude is transported via pipeline to the Malongo Terminal for export. Peter Robertson, President of Chevron Overseas Petroleum, indicated that the field will boost the volume from Block 0 and deepwater Block 14 to an average of more than 500,000 b/d in 2001. Production growth in African operations is a key Chevron objective, and Block 0 has been a cornerstone of this portfolio.

Nemba Field, located in Area B of Block 0, approximately 62 km west of the Malongo Terminal, is being developed through two production platforms - South Nemba and North Nemba. Both platforms include gas compression facilities for gas conservation and secondary recovery through rich gas injection.

South Nemba, installed in December 1997, began production in June 1998.

The North Nemba drilling program includes 12 wells, nine oil/condensate production wells and three gas-injection wells. Prior to commencing crude production from North Nemba, a gas-injection well was completed in order to minimize gas flaring during commissioning and start-up of the platform.

Participants in Block 0 offshore Angola, include Cabinda Gulf Oil Co. Ltd. (CABGOC), Chevron's operating unit, with 39.2% interest as operator; Sonangol (Sociedade Nacional de CombustIveis de Angola), the national oil company, with 41%; Elf Petroleum Angola with 10%; and Agip Angola Production BV, with 9.8%.

TFE races to bring Girassol onstream

TotalFinaElf (TFE) is racing ahead to take first oil from its huge Girassol field off Angola before Christmas. At the end of August, the company's Elf Exploration Angola affiliate had completed eight wells as part of 40-well field development program on the field, described as the flagship field in Angolan deepwater. The eight wells include seven production wells (Girassol 101, Girassol 102ST, Girassol 103, Girassol 105, Girassol 106, Girassol 107, and Girassol 108) and one water injector (Girassol 104). As shown in the field development plan, TFE is using drillships Pride Africa and Pride Angola on the Girassol field in the Girassol B development area, an 83 sq km area, carved out from Block 17. The drillshipPride Africa drilled a horizontal drain from production well Girassol 109. By the end of the month, the company was drilling the well at 2,890 meters. The drillship Pride Angola spudded water injector well Girassol 110 on Aug. 13. The drillship Pride Africa started working on the field on June 27, 2000, when it spudded Girassol 101, the first development well on Girassol. The drillship Pride Angola joined field development operations on Dec. 26, 2000, when it spudded well Girassol 103. Block 17 was awarded in late 1992 to a joint venture of operator Elf Exploration Angola with 35%, Esso Exploration Angola with 20%, BP Exploration Angola with 16.67%, Statoil with 13.33%, Norsk Hydro with 10%, and Fina Exploration M'Bridge BV with 5%.

Bouygues gets Nigerian project

Shell awarded Bouygues Offshore a $60 million, 19-month contract for pipelines on the Cawthorne Channel integrated project off Nigeria. The contract is to engineer, procure, lay, and commission 74 km of pipelines in the swamp area of the Niger Delta, south of Port Harcourt.

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