May 1, 2001
Canada's Ranger oil completed a 3,542 km regional 2D seismic survey recently in blocks 11B/12B in the deepwater Southern Outeniqua Basin, off South Africa.

Fred Akanni

Ranger gets a handle on South Outeniqua

Canada's Ranger oil completed a 3,542 km regional 2D seismic survey recently in blocks 11B/12B in the deepwater Southern Outeniqua Basin, off South Africa. The survey, carried out by the vessel New Venture S/V, covered more than half of the total acreage of the two blocks, which is 6,500 sq km. Ranger hopes that the acquisition of data will help win a farm-in into the block. In the meantime, the company will integrate the data with its understanding of the structural and stratigraphic framework of the basin, which is currently served by a coarse grid of data and a few oil and gas wells in the Bredarsdorp Basin nearer shore. The two blocks were converted to a full production sharing contract in January.

Devon pulls out of Cote d'Ivoire

Oklahoma-based independent Devon Energy pulled out of the 576-sq km offshore block CI-202 after encountering merely marginal gas/ condensate in Hippo 1, the company's second disappointing well within two months in offshore West Africa. The company also plugged and abandoned Dolphin-1, which was drilled by the jackup Ocean Liberator, in Ghana's offshore Keta Block.

Devon is relatively new in Africa; some 76% of the company's oil and gas reserves are focused in six producing regions in North America. Its leases in Africa, essentially in Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire, are among 32 million acres of net undeveloped leasehold, which reflects the company's growing portfolio of drilling opportunities. But company sources say that Devon may pull out of Ghana too if another well proves fruitless; it would look for farm-in opportunities instead in Nigeria.

Agip poised for Africa's deepwater race

Agip is expanding its presence in deepwater offshore West Africa, where it has essentially trailed TotalFinaElf, ExxonMobil, and ChevronTexaco. The company is working on bringing its Abo field in deepwater Nigeria onstream by 2002. The Abo field, estimated at 175 million bbl of oil in 500 meter water depths, off the Western flank of the deepwater Niger Delta, is being developed as a marginal deepwater field.

The Italian major reportedly is doing well on Hiti Marine 1 (HITM), off the Congo's Mer Tres Profonde Nord (ultra-deepwater) block, after a fruitless well in deep offshore Angola. The Leao-1 well in ultra-deepwater Block 25 was dry. The water depth there was 1,620 meters. But Agip has encountered two pay zones in the Congolese wildcat, which is being drilled by the drillship Saipem 10000, the same rig that drilled Leao-1.

Stolt to perform subsea work on Bonga

Stolt Offshore S.A. and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company have signed an interim agreement for the award of the turnkey subsea construction contract for the deepwater Bonga development. This $200 million contract covers design engineering, procurement, installation, and commissioning of the gas export pipeline, production flowlines, water injection lines, and steel catenary risers. Bonga, 1,200 meters water depth, is the first development in its water depth range off the coast of Nigeria. Design engineering and procurement work are already underway. The risers will be fabricated in the second half of 2002 at the Stolt Offshore Nigerdock pipe reeling facility in Nigeria. The offshore installation is targeted for 2003.

The field is owned by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company and is operated by Snepco with partners Esso Exploration and Production Company Nigeria Ltd., Nigeria Agip Exploration Ltd., and Elf Petroleum Nigeria Ltd.

Shell's Nigerian offshore production to hit 500,000 b/d by 2005

Shell Nigeria will produce 500,000 b/d of oil, more than 60% of its current output, in deepwater Bonga as well as in the shallow offshore EA and K fields by 2005 if current plans work. These figures were disclosed by Kisito Okpere, Executive Director of Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company, at the 5th Offshore West Africa conference, held in Abuja, Nigeria, in March.

Okpere did not say whether production from these three fields will replace current production, most of which is on land, or if it will add to the company's current production of 800,000 b/d of oil. The huge Bonga field is expected to produce 250,000 b/d, half the projected production, when it goes onstream in 2003.

Energy Africa enters Moroccan frontier

Energy Africa Limited subsidiary Energy Africa Morocco Ltd. and its joint-venture partner Taurus Oil AB of Sweden signed an agreement with the Office National de Recherches et d'Exploitations Petrolieres (Onarep), acting on behalf of the Kingdom of Morocco for three exploration permits. The permits, which cover 6,000 sq km in the Atlantic Ocean, are known as the Tiznit Offshore Area. The area extends from nearshore to a water depth of 1,200 meters, directly east of the Cap Draa Haute Mer Area, in which Energy Africa holds 20% equity. Acquisition of 3D seismic data is expected to begin in mid-year. Participants in Tiznit are Energy Africa (operator) 63.75%, Onarep 25%, and Taurus Oil 11.25%.

Amenam back on the front burner

TotalFina Elf will re-commence field development in the Kpono/Amenam field in OML99 and OML70, on the continental shelf in eastern offshore Nigeria. Having signed the Unitization and Unit Operating Agreement (UUOA) with ExxonMobil, the company is working on getting the 800-million-bbl oil field onstream by 2002.

Amenam/Kpono was one of the last major finds in shallow offshore Nigeria before the focus on West Africa shifted to deepwater. TotalFinaElf has 80% of the field in its acreage (OML 99) portfolio, whereas ExxonMobil has 20%. TotalFinaElf is the designated operator. Fabrication of the platform is underway in Warri. Development drilling will re-commence later in 2001. Initial production is expected to be around 70,000-80,000 b/d of oil, increasing to a peak of 100,000 b/d.

TFE, Shell, Oxy shedding weight

Shell has given notice of intent to relinquish its stake in Lokele II (PH56) offshore Cameroon. This is coming on the heels of relinquishment of two leases, Ndian River A and B, by partners TFE and Shell. The two European super-majors have also pulled out of the Mer Profunde Sud offshore Congo Brazzaville. Together the four leases total 4,549 sq km, or 1.12 million acres, out of which the Mer Profunde lease alone is 874,000 acres or 78%.

Meanwhile, American independent Occidental Petroleum Corporation (Oxy) has relinquished offshore Congo leases Marine XI and Marine XII, totaling 2,375 sq km or 587,000 acres. Oxy reportedly paid an unspecified sum as indemnity for these leases, which were awarded to the company in 1995. The company had searched unsuccessfuly for a partner to operate the leases, which are located in the prolific Lower Congo Basin.

Technip to front-end engineer Angola project

Cabinda Gulf Oil Co., a Chevron affiliate, awarded Technip a front-end engineering services contract for the development of the Benguela-Belize-Tombocco oil fields offshore Angola. The Benguela-Belize-Tombocco field complex is located in Block 14. The water depth is 1,700 ft in Tambocco and ranges from 1,100 ft to 1,400 ft within Benguela-Belize. Technip's engineering center in Houston will perform the engineering.

The Benguela-Belize fields will be developed with a 42-slot drilling and production facility. Tombocco's remote production center will likely be tied to the Benguela-Belize drilling and production center. Phase 1 of the project (definition engineering and optimization) should conclude in June. Phase 2, to be complete 38 weeks after the date of order, will cover the preliminary engineering phase, including preparation of the EPC bid packages.