High value discoveries dominate exploration successes

Paul Boughton

Europe, Africa and Asia are leading the way with high-value exploration success being reported. Sean Ottewell reports.

Statoil and its partners have discovered oil in the Snilehorn prospect in the Norwegian Sea, approximately 15km north east of the Njord field - the third near-field discovery in the Norwegian Sea in three months.

Exploration well 6407/8-6 and sidetrack 6407/8-6A, drilled by the Songa Trym drilling rig, have proven several oil columns in formations dating from the Jurassic period.

The main wellbore has also proven oil at a deeper level, in reservoir rocks of Triassic age, probably Grey Beds formation. Further data analysis will be carried out to clarify the age of this oil bearing formation.

The estimated volume of the discovery is in the range of 55-100 million barrels of recoverable oil equivalent. This is light oil of high quality, according to Statoil.

"In three months we have made three new discoveries in the Norne, Åsgard and Njord areas proving a total of 86-166 million barrels of recoverable oil equivalent. These are high value barrels that allow us to extend the production life of our installations," said Gro G Haatvedt, Statoil senior vice president for exploration on the Norwegian continental shelf.

The Smorbukk North gas/condensate discovery in the Åsgard area and the Svale North oil discovery in the Norne area were announced in August and September respectively.

"A most likely future development of the Snilehorn discovery will be via the Hyme production system to Njord, or as a direct tie-in to the Njord platform," says Arve Rennemo, vice president and asset owner of Njord (Fig.1).

The Snilehorn well results also provide important new information about the Halten Bank area in shallow water in the Norwegian Sea and indicate that there may be interesting follow-up potential in this area.

"This is probably the first time hydrocarbons have been proven in Grey Beds formation in this part of the Norwegian Sea. This will be confirmed by further analyses of the data and may imply further upside potential in this area," added Haatvedt.

Statoil has also had success offshore Canada with its co-venturer Husky Energy. The two have announced that the first Bay du Nord exploration well has discovered between 300 and 600 million barrels of oil recoverable.

The Bay du Nord discovery, located approximately 50km north east of St John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, was announced in August. A newly-completed sidetrack has now confirmed a high impact discovery. Additional prospective resources have been identified which require further delineation.

The Bay du Nord discovery is Statoil's third discovery in the Flemish Pass Basin. The Mizzen discovery is estimated to hold a total of 100-200 million barrels of oil recoverable. The Harpoon discovery, announced in June, is still under evaluation and volumes cannot be confirmed at this stage.

"It is exciting that Statoil is opening a new basin offshore Newfoundland," noted Tim Dodson, executive vice president of Statoil Exploration. "This brings us one step closer to becoming a producing operator in the area."

Advances in Africa

OMV and its partners have discovered oil in Libya. The successful exploration has been made in the Murzuq Basin, 800km south of the capital Tripoli.

"This discovery in Libya confirms the potential of the country for OMV's upstream activities," said Jaap Huijskes, OMV executive board member responsible for exploration and production.

Repsol, the operator of exploration block NC115, and partners OMV and Total will proceed with further drilling in the area. The drilling campaign started in May 2013 and is expected to last until the end of 2015. The new discovery is the first oil found in Libya by OMV and its partners since the revolution in 2011.

OMV has been present in Libya since 1975 and started production in 1985. In 2012 OMV produced 29,500 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boed) there.

Also in Africa, OMV is to invest in an offshore exploration block west of Madagascar. The company is to acquire a 40 per cent stake in the Grand Prix block from Niko.

The acquisition is in line with OMV's 'profitable growth' strategy to develop a balanced exploration and production portfolio and opportunities in the sub-Saharan African region.

The company says it will farm-in to the area for the planned drilling of an exploration well - and take over as the operator of the block prior to the commencement of drilling currently expected to be early in 2015.

Offshore Gabon, Marathon Oil says that the pre-salt Diaman-1B exploration well has encountered 50-55metres of hydrocarbon pay in the deep water pre-salt play.

Preliminary analysis suggests that the hydrocarbons are natural gas with condensate content, pending results of ongoing analyses of well data. The Diaman-1B well was drilled to a depth of 18,323 feet in approximately 5673feet of water in the Diaba License G4-223.

The Diaman-1B successfully confirms the existence of a working petroleum system and is the first discovery drilled in the deep water portion of the pre-salt play. Diaman-1B is located over 60 miles away from the nearest other pre-salt commercial discovery.

The operator and partners are currently evaluating the well results and incorporating them into an overall evaluation of the Diaman-1B discovery. The well will be temporarily abandoned pending further analysis of the data.

Marathon Oil holds a 21.25 per cent non-operating working interest in the Diaba License. Partners include Total Gabon as operator (42.5 per cent working interest), Cobalt International Energy (21.25 per cent working interest), and Gabonese Republic (15 per cent working interest).

Moving to Russia, Lundin Petroleum and its partner Gunvor have entered into a heads of agreement with Rosneft to jointly sell 51 per cent of Petroresurs.

Petroresurs is the 100 per cent owner of the Lagansky block licence located in the Russian part of the Caspian Sea. The Lagansky block licence contains the Morskoye discovery with best estimate gross contingent resources of 157 million boe. Lundin Petroleum currently has a 70 per cent shareholding in Petroresurs, with Gunvor holding the remaining 30 per cent.

As part of the agreement, Rosneft and Lundin Petroleum have agreed to investigate possible cooperation in the Norwegian and Russian offshore sectors.

Meanwhile in Malaysia, Lundin Petroleum's subsidiary Lundin Malaysia has received approval for the Bertam field development plan from Petronas. The Bertam field is the first development project operated by Lundin Petroleum in the country.

The Bertam field is located in Block PM307, offshore peninsular Malaysia. Lundin Malaysia as operator holds a 75 per cent working interest and PETRONAS Carigali holds the remaining 25 per cent working interest.

"The approval from Petronas of the Bertam field development plan is a major achievement for the south east Asia business. We have built an experienced project team with strong record of completing similar projects and are confident we have the capability to deliver this major project on schedule and on budget," commented Ashley Heppenstall, Lundin Petroleum president and ceo.

Finally, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) and the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA have signed a joint study agreement for Ayacucho Block 8 in the Orinoco oil belt.

As per the agreement, the companies now will jointly evaluate the development plan for the block. The two have also extended by one year the terms of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) for continued cooperation that they signed last year.

Petrobras confirms two quality oil finds

Petrobras has completed the drilling of another well in the Franco area (Santos Basin pre-salt). Known as the 3-BRSA-1184-RJS (3-RJS-723), the well is located at a water depth of 2011 metres, 200km from the city of Rio de Janeiro and 7.5km southeast of discovery well 2-ANP-1-RJS (Franco).

The new well has confirmed the presence of good quality oil in excellent carbonate reservoirs below the salt layer, starting at a depth of 5398 metres.

A total depth of 5900 metres was reached after a 396 metre column of oil was confirmed.

Samples were collected in reservoirs of thickness similar to that of the discovery well, confirming the extension of these oil reservoirs towards the eastern section of the Franco block.

Under a right's transfer agreement, Petrobras is entitled to produce up to 3058 billion boe in Franco. The exploratory phase is under way and is expected to be completed by September 2014.

The company has also completed drilling the fifth exploratory well in the Santos Basin pre-salt Iara area, block BM-S-11. Well 3-RJS-715D (3-BRSA-1181D-RJS), informally known as Iara Alto {A}ngulo ('Iara steep angle'), is located 225km off the Rio de Janeiro coast, at a water depth of 2128 metres.

This well was drilled in the central area of the concession's discovery evaluation plan, 4km to the north of discovery well 1-RJS-656 (1-BRSA-618). A 310 metre hydrocarbon column was identified.

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