E&P Notes: July 2024

Updates about global exploration and production activities and developments.

The Heidrun field on Haltenbanken in the Norwegian Sea.
The Heidrun field on Haltenbanken in the Norwegian Sea.
Source: Harald Pettersen/Equinor.

ExxonMobil Makes Discovery in Angola

ExxonMobil has discovered oil at its Likembe-01 well in Angola’s offshore Block 15. The discovery comes 2 years after the last discovery in the area, the 40,000 B/D well Bavuca South-1. The well, located in the Kizomba B development area, was drilled between February and April to a depth of 3013 m. It is part of Angola’s initiative to boost crude output and reverse production declines. Likembe-01 is one of three deepwater blocks ExxonMobil holds offshore Angola, with Block 15 acting as one of Angola’s largest oil-producing blocks despite a drop in output from its mature fields in recent years.

There have been 17 previous discoveries on Block 15 including Hungo, Kissanje, Marimba, Dikanza, Chocalho, Xikomba, Mondo, Saxi, Batuque, Mbulumbumba, Vicango, Mavacola, Reco Reco, Clochas, Kakocha, Tchihumba, and Bavuca.

Separately, ExxonMobil plans to drill an exploratory deepwater oil well about 500 km off Newfoundland’s east coast in the Orphan Basin, near Equinor’s Bay du Nord project, which could become Canada’s first deepwater oil-production site.

ExxonMobil operates Block 15 with a 40% interest, partnering with Sonangol, Equinor, and BP-Eni joint venture Azule Energy.

ExxonMobil Continues Exploration in Egypt

ExxonMobil and QatarEnergy have signed a farm-in agreement to acquire two offshore exploration sites off Egypt’s coast. Under the deal, QatarEnergy will hold a 40% stake in the Masry and Cairo concessions, while ExxonMobil (operator) retains a 60% interest. The Masry and Cairo concessions, located off Egypt’s north coast, cover about 11400 km2 in water depths of 2000 to 3000 m.

Initially awarded to ExxonMobil in January 2023, these blocks were planned to be solely under ExxonMobil’s control. QatarEnergy’s acquisition is part of its broader strategy to expand its global energy market footprint. The company recently enhanced its gas reserves with the new North Field West project, adding to its North Field East and North Field South projects.

Both companies have held a presence in Egypt and collaborated before, most recently in 2020, ExxonMobil was awarded the North Marakia offshore block, and in 2022, QatarEnergy purchased a 40% stake in it.

As part of the deal, QatarEnergy will hold a 40% stake in the Masry and Cairo concessions.
As part of the deal, QatarEnergy will hold a 40% stake in the Masry and Cairo concessions.
Source: QatarEnergy.

Promising Discoveries in the Gulf of Thailand

Valeura Energy Inc. announced three oil discoveries in the offshore Gulf of Thailand, including one in the Nong Yao D area and two in the northeast portion of the Wassana concession. The Nong Yao-13 well was drilled to a depth of 5399 m with just over 30 ft of new oil pay across several intervals. Two wells, Niramai-4 and Niramai-4 ST1, were drilled north of the Wassana field. Niramai-4 was drilled to a depth of 7321 ft where over 90 ft of new oil pay was discovered across two key reservoirs. Niramai-4 ST1, a high-angle well, was drilled to test the Wassana North prospect. It was drilled to a depth of 12,388 ft where approximately 40 ft of new oil pay was discovered.

The company’s contracted drilling rig was deployed to the Nong Yao field where it will soon begin drilling two infill development wells on the Nong Yao A platform. Once commissioning work is completed on the Nong Yao C mobile offshore production unit, the rig will begin development drilling on the Nong Yao C accumulation. The company is anticipating targeting first oil from Nong Yao C in Q3 2024.

Valeura’s discoveries include one in the Nong Yao D area and two in the northeast portion of the Wassana concession.
Valeura’s discoveries include one in the Nong Yao D area and two in the northeast portion of the Wassana concession.
Source: Valuera Energy.

Tanzania Shows Potential for Future Energy Hub

ARA Petroleum announced that Tanzania’s Ministry of Energy has granted a 25-year development license for the Ntorya gas discovery area to the Ruvuma joint venture. The license, received by operator ARA Petroleum Tanzania Ltd. (APT), allows for Tanzania’s largest onshore gas development aimed at producing gas for the domestic market within a year.

The field development plan includes converting an existing well, building gas processing facilities, and drilling a third well. Initial production is expected at 40 MMscf/D, increasing to 140 MMscf/D, per an agreement with the Tanzanian Petroleum Development Corp.

APT’s interpretation of 3D seismic data over the Ruvuma JV area estimates 3.45 Tcf of gas initially in place. The license area is divided into nine blocks, with requirements to conduct further studies and drill an additional exploration well within 5 years, investing at least $10 million.

“This area holds enormous gas potential, potentially transforming Tanzania into a regional energy hub,” said Erhan Saygi, general manager of APT.

ARA Petroleum, formed in 2014, is part of the Zubair Corp. and operates internationally in oil and gas exploration and production. APT, established in 2018, now owns a 75% working interest in the Ruvuma JV license area.

First Discovery in 3 Decades in the Democratic Republic of Congo

French independent oil and gas company Perenco announced an oil discovery offshore in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), marking the first exploration success in the region in nearly 3 decades. The discovery was made by Perenco’s DRC subsidiary, Muanda International Oil Co. (MIOC), using the Nuada drilling rig. The Moke‑East well, located between Lukami and Motoba fields in the DRC coastal basin, revealed a 24-ft net oil‑bearing column. Testing and completion plans are underway.

The Nuada jackup rig started drilling the first of 12 wells in the GCO field as part of MIOC’s development campaign. Concurrent operations will proceed with the CS02 workover unit.

However, the second exploration well, LUKS-A, which was targeting a southern extension of the Pinda formation, was deemed unviable due to insufficient hydrocarbon potential and has been abandoned.

TotalEnergies also recently increased its interest in the Moho offshore field.

ADNOC Acquires Stake in Mozambique’s Rovuma Basin

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) has acquired Galp’s 10% stake in Mozambique’s Rovuma basin Area 4 natural gas project, marking its fourth international gas venture. Galp will receive $650 million for its stake and shareholder loans, with additional payments of $100 million and $400 million contingent on final investment decisions for Coral North and Rovuma LNG.

This purchase follows ADNOC’s May purchase of a 11.7% stake in NextDecade’s Rio Grande LNG export facility in Texas. ADNOC aims to increase its LNG capacity from 6 to 15 mpta, viewing gas, LNG, renewables, and petrochemicals as key growth areas.

ADNOC will gain access to LNG production which will exceed 25 million mtpa. The Area 4 concession includes the operational Coral South Floating LNG (FLNG) facility, the upcoming Coral North FLNG, and Rovuma LNG onshore facilities, expected to be approved in 2024/2025. Coral South produces 3.5 mtpa, with Coral North expected to match this, and Rovuma onshore adding 18 mtpa.

Equinor Increases Stakes in Norwegian Sea

Equinor will increase its ownership in the Heidrun field and Noatun discovery, while reducing its stakes in the Tyrihans and Castberg fields and the Carmen and Beta discoveries. “We aim to maintain high production with lower emissions on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) through 2035. Aligning ownership around major production hubs is key for long-term value creation,” said Kjetil Hove, executive vice president for exploration and production Norway.

Heidrun and Tyrihans are major fields in the Halten area of the Norwegian Sea. Heidrun has one of the longest remaining lifespans on the NCS.

Currently, Equinor holds 13.0% in Heidrun and 58.8% in Tyrihans, while Petoro holds 57.8% in Heidrun and none in Tyrihans. After the transaction, Equinor will own 34.4% in Heidrun and 36.3% in Tyrihans, and Petoro will own 36.4% in Heidrun and 22.5% in Tyrihans. Equinor’s ownership of Johan Castberg will be 46.3%.

The agreement is set to take effect on 1 January 2025.