International Focus

West Africa's biggest oil giants, Angola and Nigeria, are at it again.

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West Africa's oil giants at it again

West Africa's biggest oil giants, Angola and Nigeria, are at it again. The two are reaffirming just how important the oil play in the Gulf of Guinea really is. December 15, 1999 is a day that Angola will not soon forget. Chevron began deepwater oil production with the Kuito Field in Block 14, beating Elf to the market in the process.

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Kuito, located in 1,300 ft water depth, was brought onstream in two and a half years following discovery. Within one month of start-up, the field achieved a production level of 50,000 b/d of oil. A peak production for the first phase - 100,000 b/d of oil - is expected by the end of the first quarter. Kuito, combined with production from Block 0, brings Chevron's production in Angola to a record level of 519,000 b/d. Cabinda Gulf Oil Co (CABGOC), a Chevron company, operates Block 14 and holds a 31% interest. The remaining interests are held by Sonangol (20%), Agip (20%), Total (20%), and Petrogal Exploracao (9%).

Not to be outdone, Texaco - operating in the northerly section of the large deepwater trend - has also put Nigeria in a position to make some outstanding claims. Following completion of testing on the Agbami-2 appraisal well, the Agbami structure, spanning OPL 216 and 217 offshore Nigeria, Texaco announced that potential recoverable reserves were in excess of one billion boe.

The Agbami-2 well was drilled in OPL 216 by the Glomar Explorer drillship to a total well depth of 15,683 ft, in 4,800 ft water depth, to delineate Agbami-1. The well encountered 534 ft of pay in five separate oil-bearing zones, one of which flowed at a rate of 10,000 b/d of oil. Surface equipment limitations prevented a higher flow rate.

The discovery well, Agbami-1, encountered 420 ft of oil pay in multiple zones. Texaco said the well tests surpassed expectations and the structure ranks among the largest single finds to date in the deepwater off West Africa.

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The potential one billion boe Agbami structure offshore Nigeria.
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The company anticipates the field will produce between 150,000 b/d and 300,000 b/d of oil. Commenting on the results, John J. O'Conner, the company's President of World wide Exploration and Production said, "This is the hottest exploration play in the world right now." Famfa Oil is the operator of OPL 216, while Texaco acts as technical advisor. Petrobras is also a partner in the license. OPL 217 is operated by Statoil, and Texaco is a partner.

ExxonMobil completes Sable Gas amid protests

ExxonMobil has delivered the first sales gas into the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline (MNP) from the $2 billion Sable Offshore Energy Project offshore Nova Scotia, Canada in less than two years and on budget. The project consists of three offshore platforms, a 125-mile subsea pipeline, natural gas-processing and fractionation plants, and a 650-mile gas sales pipeline to New England in the US.

Initial production to the Sable gas plant in Nova Scotia has averaged 100 MMcf/d and is expected to increase to over 500 MMcf/d of gas within a year as lateral gas lines in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are completed. The first phase of the production for the project is from the Thebaud, Venture, and North Triumph fields, while the second phase will include three additional fields. Total reserves for the six fields are estimated at over 3.5 tcf of gas and more than 100 million boe of gas liquids.

The fate of the project was questionable at one point recently when Nova Scotian Indians challenged the project in Canadian courts. The Indians contended that the MNP line crossed sacred land. The dispute was settled when the Indians formally agreed to a deal on environmental monitoring of aboriginal lands and economic benefits. Now, the Indians are preparing for another challenge over economic benefits. So, while production is flowing, the project has a few more hurdles to clear.

Y2K, please go away

The global date - 01/01/00 - has come and gone. And after tons of press and billions of dollars spent in paranoia, what are we left with? A collective hole in the bank account - over $300 billion - and thousands of so-called "Y2K experts" hired (and hired well) to fix the problem are unemployed.

On December 31, 1999, as time drifted away across the globe and the New Year emerged, reports streamed in from the first to be challenged by the virus. New Zealand - no problems. Australia - no problems, etc., etc. In Houston, there was a kind of morbid curiosity about what would happen to global petroleum industry functions as the clock struck 12:00. Were the billions spent and the years of hype worth it?

Those that couldn't let go of Y2K said that the true test was yet to come as people returned to work on Monday and systems began operating at full force (despite the fact that almost every company in the world had people working on January 1, 2000 to test the systems). Again - nothing happened.

So how did Y2K affect the oil industry? The same way it affected the rest of the world - it didn't. Reports were in from every oil producing sector of the world and nothing went wrong, even in the least technologically advanced areas of the world.

So, was the preparation worth it? The companies and government entities investing billions stated clearly that "it was better to be prepared" or "we now have a better understanding of our computer system." The 1% of people who complained about a computer or processor problem simply re-set the date on the computer.

At the end of the day, or the beginning of the year, was it worth it? The only person who could answer that positively is the now-retired 27 year-old Y2K consultant who is at home counting his or her money.

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