Global E&P Briefs

The supermajors have been fairly active of late in the North Sea.

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Europe

The supermajors have been fairly active of late in the North Sea. ChevronTexaco Upstream Europe began first oil production from the Caledonia field, in block 16/26 in the UK North Sea. Production from the well is expected to average 10,000 b/d over the first year, peaking at 13,000 b/d shortly thereafter. Development of the field will depend on well performance.

The field's single production well is tied back via a 3.5-mi, 8-in. subsea pipeline to the Britannia platform. The platform has been modified to allow Caledonia to be processed and transmitted through the Forties Pipeline System.

Chevron UK Ltd. operates Caledonia with 27.4% interest. Partners are Dana Petroleum Ltd. with 25.8%, Statoil with 21.3%, Fina Petroleum Development Ltd. with 12.7%, Union Oil Explorations Ltd. with 8.6%, Enterprise Oil UK Ltd. with 2.8%, and Baytrust Oil Exploration Ltd. with 1.5%.

Royal Dutch/Shell and ExxonMobil have received UK government approval to develop the Carrack gas field in the southern part of the North Sea. The field is to produce for 15 to 20 years.

Carrack is scheduled to come onstream late this year. Peak production is expected to reach 160 MMcf/d.

Africa

ExxonMobil Corp. subsidiary Esso Ex-ploration Angola Ltd. (Esso) has begun construction on another deepwater development offshore West Africa. The $3-billion world-class Kizomba B project in Angola's block 15 is expected to recover nearly 1 Bbbl of oil at a target production rate of 250,000 b/d.

Kizomba B will develop the Kissanje and Dikanza discoveries in water depths of 3,300-3,400 ft. The project includes the combination of a surface wellhead platform and subsea wells tied back to an FPSO that will have 2.2 MMbbl storage capacity. First oil is expected by early 2006.

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Exxon's deepwater block 15 off Angola.
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Esso has awarded facilities construction and fabrication contracts valued at $2 billion for key onshore and offshore components of Kizomba B.

Morris Foster, president of ExxonMobil Development Co., said, "The start of construction activities for Kizomba B represents another important milestone for Esso in West Africa. This and other developments being planned for block 15 will provide significant additions to our liquids production in the coming years."

Esso holds interests in seven deepwater blocks offshore Angola covering 8.4 million gross acres.

In 2001, the company started construction on Kizomba A, another deepwater development on block 15. Kizomba A is expected to recover 1 Bbbl of oil from the Hungo and Chocalho fields at a target production rate of 250,000 b/d. First oil from Kizomba A is scheduled for late 2004.

In June of last year, Esso announced construction had begun on the Xikomba deep-water development, also on block 15. Xikomba is expected to recover 100 MMbbl of oil with a target production rate of 80,000 b/d. First oil from Xikomba, scheduled for late this year, will be the first oil production from block 15.

Esso operates block 15 with 40% interest. Partners include BP Exploration Ltd. with 26.7%, Agip Angola Exploration B.V. with 20%, and Statoil Angola Block 15 AS with 13.3%. Sonangol is the concessionaire.

Another field could be moving into production off Mauritania. Woodside Petroleum would certainly like to see that happen. The company is looking to issue invitations to tender for its Chinguetti discovery in September. Plans are for the company to submit a declaration of commerciality by the middle of 2003. Invitations to bid for the FPSO and subsea system would follow in the fall.

The final investment decision would be made by the middle of next year, with first oil the beginning of 2006.

The 100 MMbbl field development plan will likely encompass five production wells, four water injectors, and one gas injector. The company is reportedly weighing the possibility of tying in the Banda field to the FPSO.

Middle East

The Sultanate of Oman has stepped up efforts to raise interest in the Gulf of Oman license round 2003. In 1Q 2003, representatives made geological information available by block at promotional seminars in London, Houston, and Singapore.

Three marine blocks are in the 2003 offering. Blocks 18A, 18B, and 41 cover 45,240 sq km.

Block 18 is in the northern part of the Sohar basin in the Gulf of Oman. To date, only two shallow-water wells have been drilled on the block.

Block 41, immediately south of block 18, was previously part of block 18 and has not been licensed since it was partitioned in 1997. Petroleum Geo-Services has acquired 3,000 km of new 2D seismic data and has reprocessed 3,600 km. No wells have been drilled on the block.

Bids will be accepted until July 15, 2003.

Northeast of Oman in the Persian Gulf offshore Iran, TotalFinaElf has begun production from the Balal field. The field, which lies off Iran's Lavan Island, began producing at 20,000 b/d. Oil is being transported from the platform via subsea pipeline for processing on the island.

Three additional producing wells are expected to begin production by mid year.

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Oman's offshore acreage up for bid.
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TFE operates the field under a "buy-back'' contract with National Iranian Oil Co. signed in April 1999. TFE holds 46.8% interest, with Eni 38.2%, and Bow Valley 15%.

Americas

Early in 1Q 2003, the government of Nicaragua's Instituto Nicaraguense de Energia heldthe first bidding round for hydrocarbon exploration and development in Nicaragua in over 25 years.

INE offered 37.3 million acres, 36.4 million of it in the Caribbean. The primary term is for a six-year exploration period and a 30-year production period.

MKJ Exploraciones Internacionales S.A., a Costa Rican corporation, bid on two 4,000-sq-km areas in the Moskito basin. The northern prospect, Isabel Bank, is in 30-300 m water depths. The southern prospect, Tyra Bank, is in 35-1,000 m water depths.

MKJ believes newly gathered seismic data indicates promising prospects. Contract signing is expected in April, with technical studies to start by the end of the year.

Central Asia

Caspian Geophysical, a joint venture between the State Oil Co. of Azerbaijan and WesternGeco, has been busy gathering seismic data in the Caspian Sea. The company's M/V Gilavar has successfully completed marine seismic surveys over Azerbaijan International Operating Co.'s Azeri-Chiag-Gunashli block, which is operated by BP.

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Caspian Geophysical's M/V Gilavar.
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Both 4C and 4D seismic surveys were carried out over the block. Caspian Geophysical is the first contractor to mobilize ocean-bottom cable equipment designed for large-scale 4C surveys within the Caspian region.

The Republic of Kazakhstan is also working to expand the bank of seismic data for its segment of the Caspian. The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources has signed an agreement with Landmark Graphics for the design, development, and implementation of a national data bank operation for E&P data using Landmark's PetroBank technology

The objective of the agreement is to create a secure, quality controlled database to manage national oil and gas data.

The installation and implementation of Petro-Bank will provide an opportunity for data management specialists in Kazakhstan to extend their expertise in E&P information management.

Asia-Pacific

In mid February, Woodside Energy Ltd. acquired increased equity in the Blacktip gas discovery off northern Australia. Woodside bought interests in three permits in the Blacktip field in Western Australia's Bonaparte Gulf from Shell Development Pty Ltd.

Blacktip, which was discovered in September 2001, lies 90 km offshore in permit WA-279-P. The estimated scope for recovery is 1.1 tcf of gas.

Woodside has increased its stake in the field from 35% to 70%. As part of the deal with Shell, Woodside has also increased its stake in permit WA-313-P from 33.3% to 66.7% and in permit NTP-57 from 60% to 70%.

According to David Maxwell, Woodside's gas business unit director, the acquisition was consistent with the company's strategy to grow the value of existing gas assets and to build sustained growth in the Australian gas business.

"Consolidation of ownership in the Bonaparte Gulf increases our interest in Blacktip and in prospective deepwater block in the region," Maxwell said. "Along with our joint venture participant, Agip Australia B.V., we are pursuing gas markets in the Northern Territory and evaluating development opportunities for Blacktip."

Woodside will continue to operate the permits.

While Woodside works to build gas assets, the company is also putting considerable effort into E&P. The company reportedly plans to spend nearly $34 million drilling the Gnarlyknots-1 well in deepwater offshore South Australia.

Woodside has a 40% stake in the project, with EnCana Corp. 30%, and Anadarko 30%.

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Also off Australia, Santos Ltd. is reportedly looking to new discoveries to fill its production gap and will spend more this year than last to accomplish that objective. Total exploration expenditure for 2003 has been set at $88.3 million, up from $80.5 million last year. A fair portion of that figure will be spent offshore Australia.

Last year, Santos acquired a 20% interest in the Patricia Baleen gas project offshore eastern Victoria, which is the company's first offshore Victorian production.

New Zealand has seen a fair amount of activity as well. Shell Todd Oil Services Ltd., operator of the Pohokura field, drilled two appraisal wells in the offshore north Taranaki gas-condensate field in 1Q 2003.

Austria's OMV Petroleum Pty Ltd. announced the successful completion of the Maari-2 appraisal well and has determined that commercial development of the Maari field is probable. The Maari field is in permit PEP 38413, 35 km south of the Maui field, New Zealand's largest offshore gas producer.

OMV believes Maari-2 well results indicate field development is commercially viable, and it will likely be developed using an FPSO. First production at a rate of 30,000 b/d is expected in 2005.

Maari is one of two main prospects in PEP 38413. The other is the Manaia structure. OMV Petroleum subsidiary OMV New Zealand Ltd. operates permit PEP 38413.

Past and present share holdings in the Bonaparte Gulf blocks that make up the Blacktip field.

Crown Minerals is looking for more exploration in the Canterbury basin, which covers 55,000 sq km beneath the Canterbury Plains and offshore across the continental shelf into the Bounty Trough. New Zealand's Crown Minerals will close the Canterbury basin bidding round on May 30, 2003. Five blocks are on offer in the May round, three of them in shallow water covering 6,500-11,500 sq km.

A confirmed working petroleum system is present in the basin, according to government sources. Four offshore wells have been drilled to date, two of them discoveries.

Data is available from Crown Minerals. New Zealand's independently assessed most favorable terms and conditions will apply to the blocks on offer.

Details of the offer and how to apply can be obtained from the Crown Minerals web site at www.crownminerals.govt.nz.

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