Global E&P Briefs

Venezuela is courting foreign investors. In late August, the Venezuelan government signed agreements with five foreign energy firms to develop four offshore natural gas blocks in the northeastern Deltana region.

Americas

Venezuela is courting foreign investors. In late August, the Venezuelan government signed agreements with five foreign energy firms to develop four offshore natural gas blocks in the northeastern Deltana region. This preselection is the first step in the process to determine which companies will partner with Pdvsa, the Venezuelan national oil company, in developing tracts located on Venezuela's maritime border with gas-rich Trinidad and Tobago. The area in question holds an estimated 70 tcf of gas.

The plan appears to be for Venezuela to produce Deltana gas to feed a 5.2-million-ton/yr LNG export terminal scheduled to be completed in 2007.

Natural gas is becoming a higher priority in Venezuela, which holds the eighth largest reserves of gas in the world.

Partners ChevronTexaco and BG recently secured approval from Trinidad and Tob-ago's Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries to develop the Dolphin Deep and Starfish fields. The fields will supply a long-term LNG contract with El Paso Merchant Energy to import LNG into the US market. Beginning in 2005 and continuing through 2023, 80 MMcf/d of natural gas will be delivered to Southern LNG's Elba Island re-gasification terminal in Georgia.

The Dolphin field currently produces 250 MMcf/d of gas, which is sold to the Trinidad National Gas Co. for domestic use.

Petrobras has a new oil discovery in the Campos basin with reserves estimated at 600 MMbbl of oil. Initial production tests indicate that production levels could reach 20,000 b/d. Two more wells will be drilled in the next four months to further test the find.

Central Asia

The Turkish government's inability to commit to imports has delayed the first phase of BP's Shah Deniz project in the Caspian Sea. Natural gas from Shah Deniz was to be exported to Turkey via a new pipeline. The project, scheduled to begin in July, was delayed until September, and then put off a second time until October.

The initial plan was for Turkey to produce 2 bcm of gas from the field beginning in 2005, with imports increasing 1 bcm/yr for a peak output of 6.6 bcm/yr.

Turkey and Greece have signed letters of intent to build a 280-km pipeline connecting the countries' gas distribution systems.

Africa

ExxonMobil Corp. subsidiary Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited started devel-opment of the Yoho project offshore Nigeria in late August. The project will develop discoveries in the Yoho and Awawa reservoirs in 200 to 300 ft of water.

A special feature of the Yoho project is the early production system, which will temporarily use an FPSO to produce first oil almost two years ahead of full-field start-up. Production will begin in late 2002 from an initial wellhead platform producing through the FPSO. Full-field start-up is scheduled for late 2004 and will include additional wellhead platforms, a central production platform, an accommodations platform, and an FSO, which will replace the FPSO. Target peak production is 150,000 b/d of oil. Produced gas will be re-injected to maximize oil recovery and eliminate routine flaring.

The $1.2-billion project, located in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp./MPN joint venture acreage, Oil Mining Lease 104, has estimated recoverable reserves of 400 MMbbl of oil.

Pan Continental and Afrex Ltd. have signed a $12.6-million oil exploration agree-ment with the government of Kenya. The nine-year contract covers three offshore blocks over 21,400 sq km.

Initial activity will cover geological and geophysical surveys. Eventually, six wells will be drilled.

The search is on for more companies interested in investing in Kenya, where there is currently no oil production.

Middle East

Kuwait Petroleum Corp. subsidiary Kuwait Gulf Oil plans to invest nearly $1 billion to increase oil production from offshore fields in the Kuwait-Saudi Neutral Zone.

The money will be spent over the next five years primarily to expand production facilities and to update and upgrade equipment.

Kuwait Gulf Oil plans to work in parallel with Japan's Arabian Oil until the latter surrenders the area on Jan. 4, 2003.

Mediterranean

BG Tunisia reported an oil discovery from the Hasdrubal South West-1 well 9 km southwest of the Hasdrubal field in the Gulf of Gabes. The discovery means that a development plan for the $300-million Hasdrubal field off Tunisia will finally be put forward. Original recoverable reserves were placed at 260 bcf of gas and 25 MMbbl of condensate. The new discovery raises those numbers, which could go up more when additional areas are evaluated.

GlobalSantaFe's Key Manhattan, which drilled the Hasdrubal South West-1 well, has moved to the Miskar field where it will drill three additional development wells.

BG Tunisia operates the Miskar gas field and holds a 100% interest in the Miskar production concession.

Europe

Statoil has announced plans to allocate more money for investment in the Barents Sea. The company's Snøhvit LNG project in the Barents Sea is due to come onstream in 2006. Statoil plans to further evaluate the region to determine its hydrocarbon potential.

"For our future strategy, we are dependent on access to new exploration areas, including the areas off northern Norway," said Chief Executive Olav Fjell at the Offshore Northern Seas conference in August. "The Norwegian shelf is not sufficient to reach our goals after 2007. That is why we need to look abroad."

Part of the plan is to team up with Russian companies to expand offshore operations. "All the major Russian companies have shown interest in a commitment of this kind," he said.

Asia/Pacific

Malaysia's state-owned Petronas was awarded production sharing contracts for blocks M-15, M-16, M-17, and M-18 offshore Myanmar. A unit of Petronas, Petronas Carigali Myanmar II Inc., holds 100% equity in the blocks, which lie off of southern Myanmar.

Sterling Energy recently secured an exploration license for the Reed Bank area offshore Palawan. The 71,000-sq-km Reed Bank basin lies off the northwest coast of Palawan and contains an estimated 5 tcf of gas. Sterling has reportedly promised a minimum investment of $200,000 to explore the field under a 60/40 profit-sharing agreement with the Philippine government.

East Timor is still trying to draw foreign investors. The latest on the list reportedly are China and Malaysia. The East Timor government held talks with Petronas in mid August and is trying to line up companies with serious interest in developing East Timor's reserves.

East Timor signed the Timor Gap Treaty with Australia in May, but an unresolved boundary dispute has kept the treaty in limbo. It will not be ratified until the boundary issue is settled.

ChevronTexaco has announced plans to begin drilling in the Cambodian sector of the Gulf of Thailand. Work is to begin between February and April 2003 over a 2,423-sq-mi region 75 mi off the Cambodian coastline.

Chevron was awarded block A in March. The company's existing assets in this area include the producing fields in block B8/32 in the Gulf of Thailand and exploration blocks 7, 8, and 9, which are presently in force majeure in an area where Thailand and Cambodia have overlapping claims.

ChevronTexaco has 70% interest in the area, with Japan's Mitsui Oil Exploration Co. Ltd. holding the balance.

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