WEST AFRICA

Amoco's Block 18, home of Platina-1. [18,214 bytes] Ghana's Cape Three Points area. [8,012 bytes] Amoco has finally spudded a well in deepwater Angola, almost three years after the lease was awarded. But it is Platina-1, which is in very deep water, (1,400 meters water depth) which is being drilled, instead of the widely publicized Maganes-1 (in 750 meters water depth). Platina ranks with Exxon's Nigerian deep water well Bosi-1, as the greatest water depth wells in the West African

Fred Akanni
Lagos

Amoco breaks the ice in Angola

Amoco has finally spudded a well in deepwater Angola, almost three years after the lease was awarded. But it is Platina-1, which is in very deep water, (1,400 meters water depth) which is being drilled, instead of the widely publicized Maganes-1 (in 750 meters water depth).

Platina ranks with Exxon's Nigerian deep water well Bosi-1, as the greatest water depth wells in the West African deepwater fairway. The well is being drilled by the semisub mersible rig Ocean Alliance.

Although the targets are Tertiary, Lower Congo turbidite sands, the well is proposed to go to a total depth of 11,316 ft, so as to evaluate much of the stratigraphy. Amoco will be drilling other wells after Platina-1, although it is not clear whether Maganes-1 will be among them. What is confirmed is that the company has awarded a three-year contract to R&B Falcon's Peregrine VII drillship to work in the block.

Block 18 occupies 4,850 sq km in central deepwater Angola in water depths ranging from 500 meters to 1,500 meters. Amoco has acquired over 5,200 sq km of 3D seismic data and 2,000 km of 2D seismic data since the award. The other partner in the lease is Shell (50%).

Pioneer slows down in Africa

Cash-strapped Pioneer Natural Resources has shelved drilling plans offshore Africa and the US Gulf Transition Zone in favor of "analysis, ranking, and timing of prospects." Pioneer is very active in South Africa, where it participated, with operator Soekor, in drilling the successful well E-BD3 as well as E-DC1 and E-DK1 between May and July 1998.

It is not clear whether this deferment will affect the company's participation in six offshore exploratory wells in different sub-blocks operated by state owned Soekor. But, Pioneer has postponed drilling two exploratory wells in Block 9 offshore South Africa, where it is operator.

The wells were to be drilled in second quarter 1999. Sliding oil prices, in addition to the company's recent purchase of assets that will not immediately generate a return, have brought Pioneer close to the red. Results for 1998 showed a net loss of $746 million.

In the fourth quarter alone, the company posted a $592 million after-tax charge, including $307 million of non-cash property impairments. The company's exploration program for 1999 will feature only the deepwater US Gulf venture, the first well of which has been spudded, and a number of onshore wells in Louisiana and Texas, at about $30 million. The balance of $110 million capital expense budget will be spent on gas developments in Canada, Argentina, and the United States mainland.

Ghana: Hunt Oil wants to try again

Hunt is moving ahead with activity in the Cape Three Points area, in spite of the spate of sub-commercial oil finds in this area. The company proposes to drill a well in late 1999, on the strength of the results of interpretation of a 278-sq km 3D survey, which was completed in mid-February in Cape Three Points (84%) and South Cape Three Points (16%). The last exploration drilling in the general Cape Three Points area (including three leases - East Cape Three Points, Cape Three Points, and South Cape Three Points) was Nuevo's NECTP-1X, which encountered "very much harder formations than expected" and turned out to be a dry hole. Hunt had earlier plugged and abandoned wildcat Cape Three Points West 1X in mid-November 1997, with non-commercial oil and gas at a TD of 11,092 ft. It was Hunt's first well in Cape Three Points Block since its award in March 1996. The Cape Three Points West 1X drilling was based on old seismic data, integrated with a 925-km 2D survey recorded by Schlumberger Geco-Prakla in June 1996.

Hunt expects to find a better drilling location with the 278-sq km 3D survey, especially as the Cape Three Points West IX duster was located 46 km east-southeast of the Tano South-1, an oil and gas discovery by the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation.

Cameroon: Phillips searches for farm-in

Phillips wants to find a farm-in partner for the Nyong I Block - offshore Douala Basin in Cameroon - before commencing any further exploration work. The prospect, Behondi A, which was due to have been spudded last October, was postponed for this business reason and may not be drilled until mid-1999. Behondi-1 is not a commitment well. The rumored agreement with the Korean company Pedco, for a 20% farm-in, seems to remain just that - a rumor.

Meanwhile, Phillips has commenced a 2,000-km 2D survey in the block and has requested an extension to Phase I, which was to expire in January 1999, prior to moving to Phase II. Phillips was awarded Nyong I in 1995; 645 km of 2D data were acquired over Nyong I and Sanaga II (which is located due north of Nyong I). Sanaga II is valid until February 2000.

Exxon, Elf, trudge on in Angola

Exxon is racing ahead with drilling activity in deepwater Angola with activity on three locations in the prolific Block 15. By end of February, the company had tested a flow rate of 3,100 b/d of oil in Hungo-2 with the rig Peregrine III. The Cholcalho-1 well, which lies close to the structure, was being drilled and the bit was at 8,245 ft. Exxon describes Chocalho-1 as an appraisal well. This raises the question as to why it is not named Hungo-3. Dikanza-2 was also drilling at the end of February.

Meanwhile Elf was logging Dalia-4 at a depth of 8,131 ft as of the end of February. The production start of this field is expected to be deferred by one year to 2003, following the recent announcement of the deferral of development of the Girassol field to 2001. Dalia and Girassol both lie in the deep water of Block 17.

Copyright 1999 Oil & Gas Journal. All Rights Reserved.

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