West Africa

Buoyed by the continuing successes of ExxonMobil's Zafiro in the Niger Delta and Amarada Hess's La Ceiba fields in the Rio Muni basins, the government of Equatorial Guinea is offering more leases for bidding, this time off the northeastern coast of the Bioko island, in the Niger Delta/Douala basins.

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Equatorial Guinea offers more acreage

Buoyed by the continuing successes of ExxonMobil's Zafiro in the Niger Delta and Amarada Hess's La Ceiba fields in the Rio Muni basins, the government of Equatorial Guinea is offering more leases for bidding, this time off the northeastern coast of the Bioko island, in the Niger Delta/Douala basins.

It is not clear, however, when the bidding round is going to take place. GESeis, a new joint venture composed of the Equatorial Guinea's state oil company GEPetrol and InSeis Terra (formerly Terra Energy Services), conducted a speculative 3D seismic program in this area from January to April. The survey covered blocks B-14 and C-15. The combined company had exclusive rights to acquire and market the 3D seismic data over these blocks as part of a process of new license awards. GESeis says that the 550 sq km 3D seismic data on block B-14 will be available to interested companies as of August, whereas the 419 sq km of data on block C-15 will be ready as of October.

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More areas to be leased off Equatorial Guinea.
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The lease offering is coming much later than originally scheduled by Equatorial Guinea's Ministry of Mines and Energy. Earlier plans called for seismic acquisition to commence early in 3Q 2001 with processed data available by the end of 4Q 2001. The intention was to offer the blocks for bidding in late 2001 and close applications for block licenses in mid 2002.

Agip's dry well rubs Kwanza basin in the dust

The disappointing result of Agip's deepwater well, Jaguar-1 on block 25, has fed into a pattern of dry holes in the deepwater Kwanza Basin off Angola. Agip Angola Ltd. plugged and abandoned wildcat Jaguar-1 as dry at 3,109 m TD in the Benguela sub-basin on June 20. The drillship Saipem 10000 spudded the well on May 20. PTD was around 3,630 m, and the objectives were the Tertiary and the Upper Cretaceous.

Jaguar-1 was the sixth well in Kwanza deepwater and Agip's second in the basin. Three of the five earlier wells drilled in the basin were plugged and abandoned either for coming up with marginal pays or for outright lack of hydrocarbon potential. TotalFinaElf's Mariposa 1 in block 19 was the latest in the series of disappointing results. It was plugged and abandoned dry in April.

The only successful well in deepwater Kwanza has been ExxonMobil's Semba 1, which was abandoned after testing a combined 3,039 b/d from two reservoirs. Even so, this result is poor compared with flow rates of ExxonMobil's discoveries in the Lower Congo basin. Jaguar-1 was spudded on May 20 with the semisubmersible rig Leiv Eiriksson. It was the second of four commitment wells in the license.

The rig has since left to Gabon. Jaguar-1 is located in 950 m of water in the eastern portion of the lease, 36 km west-northwest of Benguela and 25 km south of ExxonMobil's Semba 1 marginal oil discovery. Initially planned for 2001, the drilling of Jaguar-1 was delayed due to technical problems suffered by the Saipem 10000 in Equatorial Guinea in mid-September 2001. The unit let the riser and BOP drop on the sea bottom while abandoning wildcat Hipocampo 1 for TotalFinaElf.

The first well in block 25, Leao 1, was drilled and abandoned as dry at total depth of 2,730 m last February. Leao 1 lies in the central portion of Block 25 in 1,620 m water depth. Leao 1 was the first well to be drilled in deep waters of the Benguela sub-basin. Agip proposed three wells. The drilling of a third well in block 15 may take place later this year.

Allied Petroleum relinquishes OPL 210

Nigerian independent Allied Petroleum formally relinquished OPL 210 in deepwater Western Niger Delta after four years of fruitless searching for a farm-in partner. The lease was granted to Allied in 1993, and it quickly made history as host to the country's first deepwater discovery. But while Oyo-1 was a geologic success, proving that oil is stored in deepwater reservoirs off Nigeria, it was a commercial failure. Allied and its then technical partner, the BP/Statoil alliance, kept revising the reserves estimate downward (from an earlier 100 MMbbl) to less than 33 MMbbl. Oyo-1 was drilled in 350 m water depth. A second well on the lease, Ewo-1 turned out dry, and Statoil walked out of the lease in 1998 after BP had opted out of the country entirely. Several companies, including Marathon and Conoco, had looked at the prospectivity of OPL 210 and had apparently given up on it.

The relinquishment of OPL 210 means that Allied no longer has a majority stake in any lease in Nigeria. Allied holds 2.5% interest in OMLs 108 and 109.

CNR's mixed results in Côte d'Ivoire

Two months after successfully appraising the Baobab discovery off Côte d'Ivoire, Canadian Natural Resources International was forced to plug and abandon Kossipo 1 as a subcommercial pool. The well encountered only 8 m net light oil, non-commercial pay. CNR completed drilling Baobab 2 in CI 40 on Feb. 26, including testing, and confirmed estimates of reserves in the field as 500-700 MMbbl, with a recovery factor of 30-50%, for 150-175 MMbbl recoverable. The company exercised just one other option on the rig in the same program. CNR spudded Kossipo 1, about 10 km to the southeast of Baobab, in 1,500 m of water in the same block, shortly afterwards. Only non-commercial quantities of oil were found.

CNR reported that Baobab 2 did as well as Baobab 1, which flowed 6,700 b/d of 22-23° API oil from the Albian, with a gas-to-oil ratio of 290-320 cft/bbl.

Despite finding non-commercial quantities of oil with Kossipo 1, CNR is moving forward with development plans for Baobab. Invitations to tender for the subsea package on the Baobab development were expected out at the end of July. The development plan also includes leasing an FPSO to produce the field. An award is expected in 2Q 2003, with first oil anticipated in 4Q 2004.

The work scope for the subsea package is expected to include up to 12 christmas trees, wellheads (optional), subsea manifolds, subsea production control system, and pipeline connection systems.

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