Global E&P Briefs

May 1, 2002
Late in 3Q 2001, the Norwegian parliament voted 75-25 to approve a $5.24-billion project to develop the first natural gas field in the Arctic Barents Sea. Snøhvit (Snow White), located off the northern tip of Norway, will also include Europe's first liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant.


Late in 3Q 2001, the Norwegian parliament voted 75-25 to approve a $5.24-billion project to develop the first natural gas field in the Arctic Barents Sea. Snøhvit (Snow White), located off the northern tip of Norway, will also include Europe's first liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant. When it comes onstream in 2006, Snøhvit is expected to produce an annual 5.7 bcm of LNG for 25 years. A subsea installation will link Snøhvit to onshore processing facilities near Hammerfest.

This project won approval despite significant environmental opposition. Many opponents of the development have sworn to continue to fight it despite parliamentary sanction.

Statoil has a 22.29% stake in Snøhvit with the State's Direct Financial Interest (30%), Norsk Hydro (10%), TotalFinaElf (18.4%), Gaz de France (12%), Amerada Hess (3.26%), RWE-DEA (2.81%), and Svenska Petroleum (1.24%).


Forest Oil Corp. and Anschutz Internat-ional are close to finalizing a contract that will allow them to sell gas from the Ibhubesi Field in the sparsely explored Orange Basin off South Africa. Proven and probable reserves are placed at 1.6 tcf, but the companies believe adjacent Block 2 could bring the total up to 15 tcf. At present, there is no established market for the gas.

The $1.4-billion project will involve a mini-tension leg platform, a pipeline to shore in South Africa, and an electric power plant. Gas produc-tion is expected in 2004.

HyperDynamics Corporation subsidiary SCS Corporation has obtained exclusive rights to gather seismic data offshore the Republic of Guinea, West Africa, and to market the results. This exclusive agreement gives SCS total exploration and data marketing rights to the Republic of Guinea's entire continental margin, which covers 210 miles of coastline and up to 150 miles offshore. Under the agreement with US Oil, SCS will operate the exploration effort for an area covering 31,000 sq mi.

The $2.5 million first phase of the exploration program, scheduled to begin in March, covers seismic surveying that will use new technology that improves stratigraphic analysis at greater depths. This will increase the odds of distinguishing prospective areas.

SCS President Neil Moore said the company's interest in Guinea is based in part on the recent 2.5 tcf discovery offshore Trinidad and Tobago, where the geology matches that on the African side of the Atlantic.


Talisman Energy Inc. announced its Kairi-2 appraisal well in Block 2(c) offshore Trinidad has tested oil. Kairi-2 is about a mile south of the Kairi-1 discovery and was drilled in 115 ft water depth.

Kairi-2 is the latest in a series of positive results for Talisman including the Kairi-1 well (oil and gas), the Angostura-1 well (gas), and the Canteen-1 well (oil). Talisman believes the string of positive results indicates a large, commercial oil development in the Angostura Field. The company expects to sanction a project later this year and plans to begin production in 2004.

Technip-Coflexip was awarded the front-end engineering design (FEED) contract for the Angostura development, which it will execute with Technip Upstream Houston. The FEED contract will be complete in 2Q 2002.

BHP Billiton is the designated operator of Block 2(c) with 45% interest. Talisman has a 25% working interest, and TotalFinaElf S.A. has 30%.

This same group was awarded adjacent Block 3(a) last year subject to negotiation and execution of a production sharing contract. Operator BHP, Talisman, and BG International each hold 30% interest. TotalFinaElf S.A. has 10%.


China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) Services Ltd. jackup Nanhai IV spudded the Wei 6-12-1 well on Block 22/12 in the Beibu Gulf on March 1.

Wei 6-12-1 was drilled in 92 ft water depth less than three miles from existing pipeline facilities and six miles from the 12/1-1 producing field complex. The well drilled a 44.5 ft gross oil column with a 29.7 ft net oil pay. Estimated reserves are greater than 100 MMbbl. The well will be plugged and abandoned, but it indicates significant reserves in the area. Other prospects on Block 22/12 also raise the likelihood of development.

Bligh Oil & Minerals, part of a consortium of four Australian companies, operates the well with 40% working interest.

An ExxonMobil-led consortium signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the government of Papua New Guinea for a $3.5 billion project to build a 3,200-km natural gas pipeline from Papua New Guinea to Australia. This project will be commercially viable only if gas sales agreements can be established in Australia. The MOU defines terms and conditions for developing and producing more than 6 tcf of gas from the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. It also outlines fiscal and legal terms to move the project forward.

This project is one of several competing to address Australia's rising demand for natural gas. Another proposal is for a project that would deliver gas from the Timor Sea.

The long-delayed Papua New Guinea project initially planned for gas to begin flowing into Queensland last year. The present timetable sets first gas delivery for 2005. Partners are ExxonMobil, Oil Search Ltd., Orogen Minerals Ltd., ChevronTexaco Corp., Japan PNG Petroleum, and Mineral Resources Development Co.

Central Asia

An Agip-led consortium announced it would begin exploratory drilling in another offshore block on Kazakhstan's Kashagan oilfield. The consortium planned to begin drilling a new field in the Kalamkas structure in April.

Kazakh Prime Minister Imangali Tasmagambetov said previously that the Agip-led consortium would receive support from the country as it pursues plans to produce the first Kazakh offshore oil from the giant Kashagan field. Kazakh officials have publicly placed estimates for the Kashagan field at 50 Bbbl.

Middle East

In 1Q 2002 TotalFinaElf and partners Gazprom and Petronas brought onstream phases two and three of the South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf offshore Iran.

Phases two and three of South Pars are expected to produce 2 bcf/d of gas and 80,000 b/d of condensate from 20 wells tied-in to two unmanned platforms. The gas will be transported with the condensate to the Assaluyeh treatment plant in southwestern Iran via two, 32-in., 105-km pipelines to be treated. The Assaluyeh facility is made up of four gas processing trains, export compressors, condensate stabilization and storage units, and sulphur recovery units. The first train has already been commissioned. The others will come onstream before the end of 3Q 2002.

TotalFinaElf is project operator with a 40% interest. Partners are Gazprom with 30% and Petronas with 30%.