Vaalco Energy Inc. has completed the first of three wells planned for the Etame development project offshore Gabon, West Africa.

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Judy Maksoud, Houson

AfricaVaalco Energy Inc. has completed the first of three wells planned for the Etame development project offshore Gabon, West Africa. Transocean's semisubmersible Sedneth 701 has been relocated for the next well. The Etame field is to begin producing late in 3Q 2002, with the three wells flowing 15,000 b/d.

Vaalco's partners in the Etame marine permit are PanAfrican Energy Corp. Ltd., Sasol Petroleum International (Pty) Ltd., PetroEnergy Resources Corp., and Nissho Iwai Corp.

Amerada Hess Corp. has a significant oil discovery on block G in the Rio Muni basin offshore Equatorial Guinea. The Abang field is 14 mi northeast of Amerada's Ceiba field, which produced first oil in November 2000.

Amerada will file a plan with the Equatorial Guinean government to develop part of block G. The plan will encompass a number of fields in the northern part of block G, including Okume, Oveng, Ebano, Akom, Elon, and Abang.

Operator Amerada Hess has an 85% working interest in blocks G and F, and partner Energy Africa Ltd. of South Africa has the remaining 15%.

The government of Equatorial Guinea has a carried 5% interest in Ceiba field production and will have a carried 5% participating interest in commercial production from Okume, Oveng, Ebano, Akom, Elon, and Abang.


Seismic dataacquired by TGS-Nopec will provide the basis for Portugal's new bidding round. According to TGS-Nopec, this is the first time in the exploration history of the Portuguese offshore that an adequate amount of seismic data is available for the evaluation of the areas greater than 200-m water depth. The new data will encourage exploration of deep offshore areas between the 200-m water depth line and the limit of the Economic Exclusive Zone.

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Map of Portugal's 2002 bid area.
Click here to enlarge image

The call for bids was to be issued July 1, with bids closing Nov. 30, 2002. Portugal's Geological and Mining Institute, Instituto Geolgico e Mineiro is the governmental agency responsible for geological research of onshore land and the continental shelf of Portugal. The organization has invited the petroleum industry to nominate areas they would like to have included in this bidding round. The maximum area to be bid will be up to 40 blocks, not to exceed 3,200 sq km. Exploration will be in two phases, with a three-well drilling obligation in the second phase.


Pemex is preparing to move into deep-water, according to the Mexican Petroleum Institute (IMP), for which Pemex is its main client. Work has already begun to establish the technology necessary to explore in 6,500 ft of water, far beyond the 295-ft water depth of the deepest well to date.

It is critical for a domestic company to develop the technology to explore deepwater areas because Pemex is the only company permitted to exploit Mexico's hydrocarbon resources. Foreign companies have contracts with Pemex to drill for oil and gas and to provide technical services, but E&P are not open to foreign companies.

The government of Trinidad and Tobago has signed a memorandum of understanding with 12 international exploration companies to carry out ultra-deepwater seismic exploration. Surveys will cover previously unsurveyed areas from 5,610 to 9,900 ft of water off the country's east coast.

The companies include Agip, BHP Billiton, BP, TotalFinaElf, EOG Resources, Norsk Hydro, Repsol, Talisman, Shell, Phillips, Statoil, and PDVSA. For an up-front cost of up to $500,000, each company gains access to the data along with the right to participate in competitive bidding when licensing is awarded for the deepwater acreage. Plans are in place for a licensing round within two years.

Central Asia

BG Group Plchas completed the pre-emption process for interests in the North Caspian Sea production sharing agreement (PSA). The company's share in the PSA has increased from 14.29% to 16.67%.

The first exploration well, Kashagan East-1, was announced as a discovery in June 2000. The Kashagan West-1 and Kashagan East-2 wells were tested successfully in April 2001 and October 2001. These positive results are the foundation for continued evaluation. The Kazakhstan authorities have approved an appraisal program, under which up to five wells could be drilled by 2003.

Eni-Agip operates the PSC. Other consortium members are BG Group, ExxonMobil, Shell, TotalFinaElf, Phillips, and Inpex.


Halliburton Energy Services recently announced a drilling footage record at Unocal's North Pailin A platform in the Gulf of Thailand. In a 34-day period from spud to final completion, Halliburton drilled a record 111,713 ft. Twelve wells were drilled at an average measured depth of 9,309 ft. Total operating time was 572 hours. Each well was drilled highly deviated with a 3D design in three sections.

The record is particularly noteworthy because of the highly faulted nature of the southern part of the gulf. There are pockets of gas and oil throughout the area, and most wells are highly deviated with as many as 12 individual pockets of production in a single well.

Woodside Petroleum says first natural gas could flow from the company's Blacktip field in the southern Timor Sea by 2006.

Blacktip, in the Bonaparte basin, is a 1-tcf field that was discovered in late 2001. The field contains enough reserves to satisfy Northern Territory gas demand for 15 to 20 years, Woodside said. There is potential for further discoveries in the southern part of the basin.

Woodside has a 35% stake in the Blacktip joint venture. Shell holds 35%, and Agip holds the remaining 30%.

Kerr-McGee Corp.continues its successful exploratory program in Bohai Bay with two successful wells on block 04/36. Well CFD 11-3-1 encountered hydrocarbons at 90-ft water depth, while CFD 16-1-1 hit oil in 74 ft of water. Appraisal drilling will take place later this year to determine commerciality.

In May, Kerr-McGee began development of fields CFD 11-1, CFD 11-2, and CFD 2-1 in the same block using an FPSO.

Kerr-McGee operates block 04/36 with an 81.8% foreign contractor's interest. Sino-American Energy Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of Ultra Petroleum, holds the remaining interest.

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