The Vanco Gabon Group is making plans to set a new deepwater drilling record in the Astrid Marin permit offshore Gabon. The first well planned for the permit will be 100 ft short of the world record, but the second well, at 8,071 ft will far surpass the former record of 6,200 ft, drilled in the Andromede Field offshore Congo. Four additional planned deepwater wells will all exceed the current record depth. The drilling contract went to the Saipem 10000 and marks the fourth drilling project for this drillship, employed earlier offshore Italy, Angola, and Congo. The Vanco Gabon Group includes TotalFinaElf (28%), Unocal (25%), Vanco (22%), Kerr-McGee (14%), and Reading and Bates (11%).
Ghana exploration action picking up
Exploration and production interest is increasing once again for Ghana. Not since February 2000, when Dana Petroleum encountered a 150-ft gross oil column in a channel sand in West Tano-1 has there been so much activity off Ghana.
- GNPC, the state oil company, resumed production from the Saltpond offshore field on November 25, 2000, producing 2,000 b/d from two out of the seven wells in a field which last produced 250 b/d of 37°API oil in 1986.
- Devon spudded the Dolphin prospect in 100 meters water depth in December 2000 on the Keta lease, using the Ocean Liberator.
- Drilling of the Cougar-1 well in the Accra Keta lease began in mid-January of this year. Hunt plans to spud two wells back-to- back in the Cape 3 point area.
This activity is the busiest six-month stretch in Ghana's oil patch in the last five years. But such activity can only be sustained if oil is found in commercial quantities in this so-far dry patch of the West African fairway.
Lease relinquishments off Gabon
Months after the lapse of its eighth bidding round, there is more activity in lease awards and relinquishments than E&P activity offshore Gabon. In December 2000, Marathon relinquished the East Oroyinvare lease. Shortly afterward, Amerada Hess signed production sharing contracts with the government for the 1,200 sq km Moabi/G4-198 tract, formerly EM 2000, and the 3,652 sq km Nguma/G4-199, formerly FM-2000. Both leases are located in water depths of 50-200 meters.
Moabi/G4-198 is situated southwest of Port Gentil and close to TotalFinaElf's Girelle Marine lease. Nguma/G4-199 adjoins TotalFinaElf's Girondin Mandaros lease, which is a producing property. Further offshore, the South African state oil company Soekor plans to farm into TFE's 3,840 sq km Akori deepwater block, located in the North Gabon sub-basin.
ExxonMobil's Angola discoveries
ExxonMobil has yet to announce the results of Vicango-1 and Mbulumbumba-1, two of its recently drilled wells in deep offshore Angola. The major operator confirmed that the wells are disoveries, contrary to speculation that the Mbulumbumba-1 well was P&A'd as a dry hole.
The company is testing Mavacola-1, its most recent well, and confirmed that the Cabaca-1 well, drilled in the September-November 2000 period, was dry. There have been 19 wells in Block 15, and 14 of them were new field wildcats. Fifteen wells, including 11 wildcats and 4 appraisal wells, encountered producible oil, a success ratio of 73%.
Shell drills Forcados West I
As part of the plan to move its work progressively offshore, Shell spudded Forcados West 1, a newfield wildcat located west of its huge Forcados field, using the jackup Don Walker. The well will drill to 12,000 ft TD. It is the first time in five years that Shell will drill a well on the shelf part of the Niger Delta.
The operator has been active in deepwater since 1995, making it clear that a fifth of its daily production will come from there in the immediate future as the company moves farther away from hostile communities on land. But the shallow offshore prospects have remained undrilled, even though there has been a lot of discussion about the field development plan on the EA field (50 meters water depth).
Shell also has acquired seismic data in the shallow offshore eastern leases over the last three years. Forcados W1 is evidence of Shell's investment interest.
West Africa Briefs
- Nexen, formerly known in Nigeria as Canadian Petroleum, spudded the Noa-1 wildcat well North of OPL 226, which belongs to Solgas, a local company. Nexen has 40% of the lease, and Solgas holds 60%. The company is using semisubmersible rig Scarabeo 3.
- Angola will increase oil production to just over 900,000 b/d, 23% more than last year's average, according to the state-owned Sonangol. New producing fields offshore include Kuito, Girassol, Dalia, Hungo, and Chocalho. Sonangol will privatize some divisions and construct a new oil refinery in Lobito to handle the production.
- Global Offshore International, Ltd. was contracted by CMS Oil & Gas (Congo), Ltd. to install two 18-in. diameter pipelines offshore The Congo to support oil production from the Yombo oil field. Global will use the Comanche to link the Yombo A and Yombo B platforms to a floating production, storage and offloading system.
- PanCanadian has withdrawn from Ranger's 3,150 sq km block CI-101 as well as the 2,500 sq km block CI-103 off Côte d'Ivoire. PanCanadian held 15% in both undrilled leases offshore the Abidjan basin.
- Malaysia state-owned oil company Petronas Carrigalli is talking to the Mozambique government about acreage in the Zambezi Delta, part of the country's current offshore bidding round.
- ROC (Australia) acquired a 92.5% interest in a production sharing contract covering three blocks off Senegal known as the Casamance blocks. The PSC covers over 8,000 sq km and lies north of two oil discoveries at Dome Flore and Dome Gea.
- Elf Exploration-Angola terminated a three-year contract on the new-build semi Sedco Express, exercising the right to terminate because of delayed delivery. The rig is undergoing commissioning off the Canary Islands and Transocean is negotiating with TotalFinaElf and others for rig assignments off West Africa.
- Triton Energy apparently has abandoned its G-4 exploration well off Equatorial Guinea after finding oil on Block G. The well was drilled to a TD of 6,610 ft. The G-4 well is in 800 ft water depth, 14 miles northeast of Ceiba-1.