WEST AFRICA

Things are desperately quiet in Cote d'Ivoire, which doesn't have anything close to the high-tempoed deepwater activity in Angola, Nigeria, and Cameroon. With the government eager for investment in its deepwater tracts, Cote d'Ivoire has introduced a new Hydrocarbon Code. The features of the new code include:

Fred Akani
Lagos

Cote d'Ivoire deepwater offer

Things are desperately quiet in Cote d'Ivoire, which doesn't have anything close to the high-tempoed deepwater activity in Angola, Nigeria, and Cameroon. With the government eager for investment in its deepwater tracts, Cote d'Ivoire has introduced a new Hydrocarbon Code. The features of the new code include:

total exemption from value-added tax, all equipment imported for petroleum operations to receive customs clearance within less than 48 hours, removal of SGS control on equipment imported for petroleum operations, uplift of deepwater development investments, up to 75% cost oil recovery for deepwater operations, and a petroleum fiscal regime including contractors providing specialized services.

Meanwhile, independent companies have taken the places where the majors once operated 15 years ago.

The relative newcomer Apache appraises the oil leg of the Foxtrot gas and condensate field from Dauphin-1, a deeper pool straight wildcat located two km south of Foxtrot-1 in 150 meters water depth, in Block CI-27, just as UMC has completed the first of a two well commitment in Block CI-01 by drilling Ibex-1.

Foxtrot was one of the hydrocarbon pools discovered by Phillips in its very active days in C"te d'Ivoire in the early 80s. The proposed TD is 9515'MD. Foxtrot 1 TD'd at 8635'MD. The Foxtrot Field is upper Cretaceous in age, made of two Albian channel fill sandstones. The field stores about 600 billion cf gas and 6 million bbl condensates in fault blocks which subcrop the Lower Cenomanian Unconformity.

Gabon activity up

Even as Arco Petroleum has just taken hold of the D-93 tract(Tolo), due north of its E-93 lease in very deep offshore Gabon, the key players in this former OPEC member-country are rooting for partners to reduce their financial exposure in the various permits.

Amoco would like to farm-out 50% of its working interest in Phoenix Marin permit. Occidental wants a partner in the outsize leases Chailu and Meboun tracts in the south central offshore Gabon. And Vaalco is also anxious to have collaborators in Equata and Etame Marine tracts.

But Arco's work program in Block D-93 includes 1,300 line km of 2D seismic in the first contract year, followed by 300 sq km of 3D in the second year and one optional well to 2,000 meters.

Meanwhile, Santa Fe Energy Resources has signed a production-sharing agreement for the 1,541 sq km Mondah Bay which is on both land and offshore, north of Libreville, in the Coastal Basin,(which extends to Angola).

Santa Fe intends to focus its exploration activity on the offshore portion of the permit. The contract terms specify an initial two-year exploration period with an optional three year extension.

Angolan deepwater

Hyperactive Mobil is drilling the first deepwater well in the Kwanza Basin in deepwater offshore Angola. It is utilizing the drillship Glomar Robert F. Bauer, which arrived from Yemen, three months ago. The well Baleia -1 is located in 760 meter water depth.. Elsewhere in deep offshore Angola, Amoco is acquiring 2D seismic data in Block 18.

Zafiro boundary dispute

Just as Mobil is cranking the engine that will turn Equatorial Guinea into an oil producing country, Nigeria has sent signals indicating that it believes the Zafiro Field does not belong solely to that country, but rather is an oil pool common to both countries. Nigeria is thus rooting for a joint oil field development and is keen on determining the boundary with Equatorial Guinea in the Zafiro area, so that the issue doesn't balloon into the sort of bitter wrangling that is engaging Nigeria and Cameroon in another part of the eastern offshore Niger Delta.

Zafiro was discovered last March in 200 metres of water offshore Niger Delta. The discovery well, Zafiro-1 tested about 11,000 b/d. Mobil moved speedily to put it on production. In June last year, without the benefit of the result of an appraisal well, Mobil contracted for an FPSO to produce the field. If it goes into production this month, it will have been only 18 months between discovery and production.

Zafiro belongs to the same stratigraphic sequence that has been profitably exploited by Mobil and Elf in southeast offshore Nigeria. But until last month, no one suggested the possibility that the field straddled two political units.

The Nigerian government, in late August dispatched officials of the National Boundary Commission and the Federal Ministries of Petroleum Resources, Works and Housing, and Agriculture to Malabo, capital of Equatorial Guinea, "to discuss modalities on how to resolve the problem", reports the pro-government newspaper This Day. Before this, the two countries met unsuccessful first in Malabo and then in Port Harcourt.

Elf Nigeria holds the lease to Nigeria's OML 102, located 3.5 km due north of the Zafiro Field as currently mapped. And Elf suspects from seismic profiles that the field extends into its acreage. Elf has reportedly written a letter through Mobil Nigeria to take the necessary steps to protect the interests of Nigeria and the joint venture governing the concession, and that any development plan put in place for the Zafiro Field should not negatively impact Elf's rights to OML 102.

In March, Mobil and Elf were also at loggerheads as to who should operate the 800 million bbl Amenam/Kpono Field (OMLs 99/70 in Nigeria's southeastern aquatory.

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