Vanco going for unexplored basins

Vanco Energy, holder of the largest deepwater oil prospecting acreage in Africa, is seeking to entrench its position in accumulation of real estate.

Vanco Energy, holder of the largest deepwater oil prospecting acreage in Africa, is seeking to entrench its position in accumulation of real estate. The company is talking with the Namibian Government for some deepwater tracts and negotiations are now well advanced. Vanco is famous for acquiring large deepwater leases in under-explored basins and this Namibian search just fits in the company's calculations.

Last October, the company acquired 7.9 million acres in deep offshore Senegal, adding to acreage in Morroco and Cote d'Ivoire, all areas where proven oil is less than 500 million bbl. Vanco's Exploration Manager, Bill St John, shrugs off the misgivings that the company is always looking for "barren" basins. He said "We prefer to be proactive and lead, not follow. We also like Angola and Nigeria, but the signature bonuses expected in these countries are high."

Vanco signed a deal for the Corisco area in Equatorial Guinea, which has been proved to be prospective by the recent discovery of the Triton field Ceiba in Block G located directly north of Corisco.

Gabon round offers mostly in deepwater

Of the 27 leases on offer in Gabon's current (9th) licencing round, 14 are offshore.

Five of these, totaling 11,430 sq km, are in shelf and deepwater. Nine are in ultra-deepwater and they span some 84,500 sq km. The leases are: shelf and deepwater: BM2000 (ex-AM99), DM2000 (ex-BM99), EM2000 (ex-CM99), FM2000 (ex-DM99), HM2000 (ex EM99); ultra-deepwater: AM2000 (ex-A97), CM2000 (ex-B97), GM2000 (ex-C97), IM2000 (ex-D97), JM2000 (ex-E97), KM2000 (ex-F97), LM2000 (ex-G97), MM2000 (ex-I97), NM2000. The application deadline is set for 30 September 2000.

Nigeria's deepwater expanding on success

The Nigerian government declared that part of the reason for the current bidding round is to expand on the deepwater successes of the last five years. There are 11 deepwater blocks out of the 22 leases on offer, and their marketability has been heightened by the success story of the last five years.

Some 15 operators have spent $1.4 billion on 40 wells between 1993 and 1998. Three fields of 500 million bbl and above have been found and are slated for development:

  • Bonga (Shell, OPL 212 - about 750 million bbl of oil) will come on stream in 2003 at a rate of 200,000 b/d.
  • Erha (ExxonMobil, OPL 209 - between 600 million bbl and 1.2 billion bbl) is expected onstream by 2004.
  • Agbami (Famfa/Texaco, mainly OPL 216) will come onstream in 2003, with 250,000 b/d potential; tenders are out for an FPSO.

Other interesting fields include the following:

  • A bo (Agip, OPL 316): 150 to 250 million bbl reserves, expected onstream 2002/2003 at 35,000 b/d start-up.
  • Chota (Conoco, OPL 220): 300-500 million bbl
  • N'golo (Shell, OPL 219): 200 to 400 million bbl
  • Ukot (Elf, OPL 222): 200-400 million bbl. Any further work on this field is dependent on the interpretation of the 3D data just now being acquired

Sonangol looking for 40%

Angola's state oil company Sonangol is searching for a 40% participation in deepwater Block 34. Sonangol P&P will be designated the operator and Norsk Hydro a partner, each with a 30% interest. Several major operators including Shell, ExxonMobil, and Chevron have been approached for participation. The tentative deadline for finalizing the award is next month.

Pride Angola going for Paladio

The drillship Pride Angola will be used to drill Paladio 1 in Block 18 off Angola this month, according to officials of operator BP Amoco. The prospect is located in 1,230 meters water depth, approximately 17 km southeast of the Galio 1 oil discovery. Block 18 is 50-50 owned by BP Amoco and Shell. It was only last year that drilling began on the lease, but there has been a string of discoveries: Platina 1 (April 1999), Plutonio 1 (June 1999), and Galio 1. The Galio 1 well was suspended at TD 3,470 meters in late January 2000 as an oil well. The reservoir sands of Oligocene age. Galio 1 is sited in 1,266 meters of water, 12km east-northeast of the company's Platina 1 oil discovery in the northern portion of the license.

Nigeria/Sao Tome boundary dispute

Nigeria is in talks with Sao Tome e Principe on common boundaries offshore. The countries were to start a fourth round of monthly discussions by the last week of May. Located right on the Atlantic Ocean directly south of the Nigerian landmass, the twin island nation has carved up offshore oil leases that directly overlap deep offshore leases on the Nigerian Concession Map. Two years ago, Sao Tome e Principe signed a Technical Evaluation Agreement with Mobil, covering all the 22 leases. The company had the right to choose whichever lease it wanted before others could be thrown open for bidding. But the boundary problem with Nigeria has held up work. ExxonMobil has said that it will not proceed on any of the 22 blocks unless there is substantive progress on the border talks with Nigeria.

Seisranger covers different environments

Geco Prakla's Seisranger S/V is halfway into completing a 3D seismic survey for Solgas, an indigenous Nigerian company, in the shallow water lease OPL 226, offshore Niger Delta. Commencement of the 650 sq km survey for Solgas in water depths of 50-200 meters is a dramatic shift from a far deepwater environment to the shelf. Seisranger's last job, which was completed on April 9, was a 1,225 sq km survey for South Atlantic Petroleum in deepwater lease OPL 246. The job covered water depths between 1,200-1,600 meters.

Triton spuds Ceiba 3

Triton Energy spudded Ceiba 3, the second appraisal on the Ceiba field on 1 May 2000. The well is located 1.5km southeast of the Ceiba 1 oil discovery in Block G, offshore Equatorial Guinea. Triton is using the drillship Glomar R.F. Bauer and will be drilling Ceiba-3 back to back with Ceiba-4. The planned final depth for Ceiba-3 is 3,010 meters.

The Ceiba field was discovered in October 1999 with a well initially christened M'Bini-1 in the largely unexplored Rio Muni Basin, where oil had never been found. The first appraisal, Ceiba 2, confirmed the discovery well and was suspended as a potential oil producer without testing in November 1999. Located in 716 meters of water, Ceiba 2 was drilled at about 1.5 km southwest of Ceiba 1 to TD 2,665 meters. Results from existing data as well as the first two wells indicated reserves to be around 100 million bbl (with 500 million bbl upside potential). Block F and Block G were awarded to Triton on 14 April 1997. South Africa based Energy Africa farmed in to the licenses in August 1999, acquiring a 15% interest.

Zafiro hits record

ExxonMobil's Zafiro Field in the southeast Niger Delta, off Equatorial Guinea, reached a production level of 101,500 b/d of oil during the first quarter of 2000 - a record in its four-year lifespan. The field is located in Block B, south of Elf's OML 102 in the Nigerian part of Niger Delta. The much talked about platform on the Jade section of the field was installed and the first platform development well was expected to come onstream in May 2000. The third phase of Zafiro Field development involved the installation of the 40-slot platform in 150 meters of water to produce the Jade, Opalo East, Serpentina, and Rubi satellites located over the northeastern flank of the Zafiro Field complex. At least 10 wells are planned in the year 2000. With the capacity to produce 60,000 b/d the platform is one of the largest fixed structures in West Africa.

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