Jan. 1, 2011
Greenland’s government has awarded three new exploration concessions under its Baffin Bay bid round. Shell and its partners Statoil and GDF Suez picked up blocks 5 and 8, covering a total area of over 20,000 sq km (7,722 sq mi), and Maersk Oil won the 11,802-sq km (4,558-sq mi) block 9. In all cases, state oil company Nunaoil has a carried interest of 12.5% during the exploration phase. Maersk plans to establish a field research facility in the area, and will initially concentrate on acquiring new seismic data. Drilling may have to wait a few years.

Jeremy Beckman • London

North America

Greenland’s government has awarded three new exploration concessions under its Baffin Bay bid round. Shell and its partners Statoil and GDF Suez picked up blocks 5 and 8, covering a total area of over 20,000 sq km (7,722 sq mi), and Maersk Oil won the 11,802-sq km (4,558-sq mi) block 9. In all cases, state oil company Nunaoil has a carried interest of 12.5% during the exploration phase. Maersk plans to establish a field research facility in the area, and will initially concentrate on acquiring new seismic data. Drilling may have to wait a few years.

Statoil was also a successful bidder in the latest lease sale offshore Newfoundland. Its haul included an extension of its license in the Flemish Pass basin, containing the Mizzen discovery; operatorship of an exploration license in the north of the basin; and a 50% stake in another exploration license in the Jeanne d’Arc basin (JDB), 250 km (155 mi) offshore Newfoundland. The company recently partnered Suncor Energy in the Ballicatters well in the JDB, and is lining up a further well in this basin during 2011-12 on its Fiddlehead permit.

Petronas Carigali has a new partner offshore Cuba, following the signing of a Transfer Agreement and a Joint Operating Agreement with Gazprom Neft for blocks 44, 45, 50, and 51 in the Gulf of Mexico. To date, 2D seismic has been acquired, and the partners expect to drill a first exploratory well some time this year.

South America

PDVSA has contracted Technip to provide EPC management of Venezuela’s first offshore gas development. The Mariscal Sucre Dragon and Patao fields which will supply the gas are 25 mi (40 km) north of Paria peninsula, off the country’s northeast coast. Technip’s scope includes detail engineering both for the Dragon platform, to be installed in a water depth of 427 ft (130 m), and associated subsea facilities, construction management, and offshore transportation/installation.

In the Gulf of Venezuela, a much larger gas project could take shape following a third successful well on the Perla structure in the Cardon IV block, operated by a joint company owned by Repsol and Eni. Results from the latest well have pushed up estimates of the field’s resources to over 14 tcf (2.5 BBboe). The partners already are working with PDVSA on an early production phase, slated to start up in mid-2013.


Brazil also continues to deliver. Anadarko Petroleum’s Itauna #1, its first well in block BM-C-29, intersected over 275 net ft (84 m) of oil and gas pay in two separate post-salt zones. Water depth was around 250 ft (76 m).

In the Espirito Santo basin, Petrobras and Statoil found mid-density oil while drilling the Indra structure in license BM-ES-32. The location was 400 km (245 mi) north of the Peregrino field. And in Santos basin block BM-S-11, Petrobras and its partners encountered further light oil in Tupi West, 11 km (6.8 mi) northwest of the original Tupi discovery well. This could lead to the allocation of a further FPSO to the Tupi West area.

Earlier, the consortium for this block and BM-S-9 in the same basin contracted Brazilian company Engevix Engenharia to build eight hulls for the fleet of FPSOs that will be used to develop the various fields in the concessions – Tupi, Iracema, Iara, Guara, and Carioca. The total value of the contract is around $3.5 billion.


Diamond Offshore’sOcean Guardian has started drilling the Dawn/Jacinta 25/51 well for Desire Petroleum, the latest in its rolling campaign off the North Falklands basin. Its previous effort for Desire, on the Rachel North structure, was abandoned after hopes of an oil discovery were dashed. Rockhopper Exploration will then take the rig for one or two slots, in the same basin.

In the South Falkland basin, Borders & Southern Petroleum is hoping to take the deeper water semiEirik Raude to drill its first wells, later this year, on the Darwin and Stebbing prospects. The rig is currently on development duty offshore Ghana.

West Africa

First oil flowed last month from the deepwater Jubilee field, which spans two Ghanaian concessions. Kosmos Energy was responsible for the development, with partner Tullow Oil taking the helm during the production phase. Tullow expected production through the newbuild FPSO to rise steadily to 50,000 b/d, before surging to 120,000 b/d as new wells come on line.

The turret for the Jubilee field FPSO.

Anadarko scored its second deepwater oil find offshore Sierra Leone, in the Sierra Leone-Liberian basin. The Mercury-1 well, in block SL-07B-10, encountered 135 net ft (41 m) of oil pay in two Cretaceous fan systems, in a water depth of 5,250 ft (1,600 m). Oil in the main objective was light and sweet. The location was 40 mi (64 km) southeast of the previous Venus discovery.


Alliance Engineering is providing jacket/topsides engineering and design for Chevron’s South Nemba Auxiliary (SNX) project off Angola. Chevron has ordered a multi-deck, four-pile jacket structure from EPC contractor DSME which will be bridge-linked to the SNA platform on the Nemba field. The new facility will include oil processing, separation, gas compression, and dehydration equipment.

Barents Sea

Gazprom has awarded WorleyParsons a front-end engineering design (FEED) contract for the production vessel planned for phases 2 and 3 of the Shtokman gas-condensate project. This will have a ship-shaped hull, designed to withstand sea ice accumulations. WorleyParsons’ remit extends to design of the 70 MMcm/d (2.47 tcf/d) topsides process equipment, the marine systems, turret, and living quarters. CB&I was handed the FEED for the proposed LNG storage and loading facility at the port of Terriberka in the Murmansk region.

Mediterranean Sea

Cooper Energy has taken an 85% operated interest in the Nabeul permit in the Gulf of Hammamet offshore Tunisia. The commitments include acquiring new seismic to mature prospects, and drilling of one offshore well. Cooper says its initial focus will be on the Alpha and Gamma oil prospects in the west of the concession. Both are thought to lie in the same Birsa sandstone produced in the nearby Birsa, Oudna, and Tazerka fields.


BG Egypt has delivered its first Oligocene gas discovery in the deepwater West Nile Delta area, 80 km (49.7 mi) northwest of Alexandria. The Hodoa find was drilled by the semisubmersiblePride North America in 1,077 m (3,533 ft) of water. BP’s partner in the concession is RWE Dea.


Preliminary reports suggest Noble Energy’s latest exploration well in the Levantine basin offshore Israel is a gas discovery. However, partner Delek Drilling cautioned against size estimates for the Leviathan prospect until further analysis is complete.

Black Sea

GSP Offshore has installed a new drilling rig on TPAO’s Akcakoca platform in the Turkish sector. The modular rig, lifted on by the crane bargeGSP Neptun, was to be used initially to tie two wells back to the platform, later to extend development drilling on the Akcakoca gas field.

Middle East

The Emir of Qatar has officially opened the country’s newest offshore and marine shipyard, a joint venture between Keppel Offshore & Marine and Qatar Gas Transport Co. The new facility already has a memorandum of understanding to provide services to Gulf Drilling International.


Pars Oil & Gas Co. claims to have discovered a large layer of heavy oil beneath the Ferdowsi gas field in the Persian Gulf. Foreign companies have expressed interest in participating in a potential development. New studies by the Iranian government also suggest the oil layer in the giant offshore South Pars field could be 2.5 times greater than previously thought.

East Africa/Indian sub-continent

Anadarko ended the year by extending its pool of gas in Mozambique’s deepwater Rovuma basin. The well on the Lagosta prospect, drilled by theBelford Dolphin, encountered over 550 ft (167 m) of gas pay in Oligocene and Eocene sands. The location was to the south and southeast of the previous Barquentine and Windjammer finds. Next up for the rig was a well on the Tubarao prospect, 17.5 mi (28 km) to the southwest, also in Offshore Area 1.

Location of Lagosta, Anadarko’s latest gas discovery off Mozambique.


To the north, off Tanzania, Ophir Energy notched a second successive gas discovery with the Chewa-1 well in block 4, 8 km (5 mi) northwest of the Pweza-1 success. Following completion of a third planned well, partner BG Group has the option to assume operatorship of this block plus blocks 1 and 3 from Ophir.


Japan Drilling Co. has agreed to provide its deepwater drillship for operations offshore Sri Lanka, starting this July. The operator is Cairn Lanka and the program comprises three firm and two optional wells.


Chevron has initiated the Gendalo-Gehem gas project in the Makassar Strait offshore East Kalimantan, Indonesia. There will be two separate hub developments, each based on a floating production unit (FPU), subsea drill centers, gas and condensate export pipelines, and an onshore reception facility. Up to 1.1 bcf/d will be produced, either for domestic use, or as feedstock for the Bontang LNG plant. PT Technip Indonesia has the FEED contract for the FPUs, with PT Worley Parsons FEED contractor for the subsea facilities and pipelines.

Total has taken an 85% operated interest in block SK317B, offshore Sarawak, Malaysia. The 700-sq km (270-sq mi) concession spans waters ranging in depth from 200-1,000 m (656-3,281 ft). Commitments include seismic acquisition and deep offshore exploration drilling.

Offshore Borneo, Eni has found further gas with its latest well on the Jangkrik field in the Muara Bakau permit. It now estimates in-place resources at over 1.4 tcf.


BG Group’s first well as an operator offshore China has delivered gas. The Linshui 22-1-1 well was drilled 130 km (81 mi) offshore in the Qiongdongnan basin in the South China Sea, in a water depth of 1,338 m (4,390 ft). BG plans to drill a second well on its acreage in the area early this year.

Australia/New Zealand

Woodside Energy has awarded the Pöyry-Peritus partnership a concept definition study for the Lady Nora development. Lady Nora is one of numerous hydrocarbon pools to the southwest of the Goodwyn A platform. Water depth is around 80 m (262 ft). Peritus will provide study management and subsea and marine engineering, with Pöyry’s responsibilities including topsides facilities and flow assurance. Woodside operates the development on behalf of the North West Shelf venture.


Chevron Australia has contracted the Clough Sea Trucks joint venture for construction services for the Gorgon project. This covers installation of 90 km (56 mi) of 20-in. (51-cm) pipeline, offshore and onshore, from Barrow Island to the Dampier Bunbury natural gas pipeline. The derrick lay bargeJava Constructor and shallow water lay barge Clough Challenge will handle offshore installations.


Oil Search has agreed farm-in terms for two new exploration licenses offshore Papua Guinea. License PPL 276 is west of the Pandora and Pasca gas fields in the Gulf of Papua, while PPL 312 is in the northern part of the Gulf, east of the Uramu gas field. Oil Search’s strategy is to build up a pool of proven or potential gas accumulations that could support commercialization.

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