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The top 10 offshore exploration discoveries and awards in September 2019



The steady state of oil prices has led to an increase in exploration, with the result that September has seen a number of new offshore discoveries capable of holding huge amounts of oil and gas, as well as several new blocks awarded for exploration.

With exploration increasing, EngineeringPro looks at the 10 biggest Oil & Gas discoveries and awards from September 2019

With so much activity taking place around the world, key areas are seeing a massive potential for new projects and new oil & gas jobs. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the top 10 offshore exploration discoveries and awards in September 2019.

The Yakaar-2 well supports claims that Senegal could have a world-class offshore oil field

1. BP, Yakaar-2 well
Offshore Senegal

In 2017 BP announced that it had made a major gas discovery as a result of their drilling activities at their Yakaar-1 well, offshore Senegal. And then on 23rd September 2019, a similar discovery was made just 9km south in the Yakaar-2 appraisal well.

BP and partners Kosmos and Petrosen announced that they had encountered 30 metres of net gas pay in a very similar Cenomanian reservoir to that of Yakaar-1. The well was drilled in a water depth of around 2,500 metres, reaching a total depth of around 4,800 metres.

The combined finds at the Yakaar-1 and Yakaar-2 wells, along with the wells located in the Ternaga, which make up the Cayar Offshore Profound Block, according to Kosmos have the potential to be a world scale resource and support a wider LNG project for both domestic and export markets. It's important to remember that these finds support the discovery at the Greater Tortue Ahmeyim-1 well earlier this year, making for a much stronger commercial proposal.

Corallian has been awarded seven offshore UK blocks with significant potential for new oil finds

2. Corallian Energy, 7 blocks & part blocks exploration licenses
Offshore UK

Corallian Energy and its partners (Upland UK and Baron Oil) have been awarded seven blocks and part blocks as part of the UK Oil and Gas Authority's 31st Offshore Licensing Round. The blocks awarded are under two licenses, P2478 which is in the Southern part of the Inner Moray Firth basin and P2470 which is located in the Northern Part.

Corallian have commented on the potential of their two licenses with estimates for license P2478 holding a potential 210 mmboe and license P2470 containing the Knockinnon oil discovery, with further potential from the undrilled blocks.

Malcolm Butler, who is the Executive Chairman of Baron Oil had the following to say:

“Our initial work commitments consist mainly of 3D seismic processing. We have already identified substantial prospects in the acreage and expect that the reprocessing work will enable us to define at least one near-term drilling location”.

The awards are very interesting for the continued life of the North Sea oil fields as a whole, and see yet more independents enter the arena, following the trend of majors moving out of the UK continental shelf.

Europe Oil & Gas have expanded their portfolio with permits in oil fields offshore Morocco

3. Europa Oil and Gas, Inezgane award
Offshore Morocco

Europa Oil and Gas has predominantly operated in the UK with exploration and production operations offshore Ireland and the UK. Now they are expanding their portfolio, adding to it the award of the Inezgane Offshore Permit in the Agadir basin offshore Morocco.

The exploration licence covers 11,223 sq km and lies within water depths of between 600 and 2000 meters. The first step for Europa will be to reprocess 3D seismic data which covers 1,300 square km.

Once this phase is complete, Europa will have to commit to drilling or it will have to relinquish their rights over the field. Europa have said they will focus on a geological feature which has historically been a very good producer within West Africa: the Lower Cretaceous fan sand play.

Europa had this say about the offshore prospect:

“Europa has identified that they key elements required for a working hydrocarbon system, namely source, reservoir and seal are all present in the license area. In addition, a number of large structural traps located on the edges and above salt diapirs have already been identified throughout the permit area. Europa plans to mature several of these stacked prospects, which each have the potential to hold over 250 million barrels of oil, to drillable status with a view to attracting one of more farminees to drill an exploration well in the second phase of the license.

"To date, only 10 wells have been drilled in Deepwater Morocco, of which only three have penetrated a complete Lower Cretaceous section. Given the Deepwater basins extended for some 1,800 kilometers offshore Morocco, it is clear that the play is highly under-explored. If the Lower Cretaceous play can be successfully unlocked, enormous upside lies within the rest of the license area”. 

Cooper energy added to their existing Otway Basin gas assets with a new exploration permit

4. Cooper Energy, Otway permit award
Offshore Victoria, Australia

Australia's Cooper Energy has been awarded a permit for the exploration rights within the Otway Basin. Permit VIC/P76 is an area made up of water depths of around 162km2 and is roughly 60 to 70 meters offshore. The permit looks to be very promising for Cooper Energy and is surrounded by a number of depleted and producing gas fields, giving the newly acquired permit much more chance of success. Earlier this month Cooper discovered gas within their Annie-1 well, the Waarre C and Waarre A within the Otway Basin with a net pay of around 62 meters. 

The permit itself was awarded to Cooper Energy on a 6 year term with the first three years to consist of geological studies and the drilling of one well. 

David Maxwell who is Cooper Energy’s Managing Director had this to say:

“VIC/P76 is a logical and appealing complement to our existing Otway Basin gas assets. It adjoins the Annie gas discovery and Casino production license and is traversed by the Casino gas pipeline which we are planning to connect to the Minerva Gas Plant. The recent discovery of gas at Annie-1 has reinforced the prospectivity of this area of the offshore Otway Basin for gas exploration and the high success rate of drilling amplitude-supported targets in the region”. 

“The fact that VIC/P76 possesses an Annie-look-alike makes the permit particularly attractive, especially as the proximity to our existing pipelines and access to the Minerva Gas Plant makes for very supportive development economics”.

Equinor found recoverable resources of 8-14 million standard cubic metres on the Norwegian continental shelf

5. Equinor, Gas Discovery, Orn exploration well 
Norwegian Sea

In June 2019 Equinor received consent from the Petroleum Safety Authority to commence exploration drilling on the 6507/2-5 S well. Equinor in September announced that the recoverable resources found are estimated between 8-14 million standard cubic meters. This figure equates to around 50-88 million barrels of oil equivalent, resorting hope in the Norwegian continental shelf which will have a strong impact on Norway’s domestic use. 

The well was drilled to a depth of 4,147 meters below sea level and a water depth of 332 meters. Well 6507/2-5 S is located around 12 kilometers southwest of Marulk field.

Equinor's Senior Vice President for Exploration in Norway and the UK said:

“The discovery follows several discoveries we have made in the same area during the past years, adding considerable volumes in an area with an already developed infrastructure. This gives us the opportunity to recover the resources profitably for both the licensees and society”. 

This follows a trend of success Equinor has achieved since 2017, with discoveries estimated to total a staggering 650 million boe. 

ExxonMobil's latest Guyana discovery is the 14th on the Stabroek Block

6. ExxonMobil, Stabroek oil discovery 
Offshore Guyana 

As the oil and gas world is seeing the potential of Guyana grow, ExxonMobil in September have made what is now the 14th discovery on the Stabroek Block. This discovery adds even more resource to the already estimated 6 bboe offshore Guyana. 

ExxonMobil have announced that their Tripletail-1 well encountered around 108 feet of oil-bearing sandstone. The well was drilled in ultra-deep waters offshore Guyana in 2,003 metres of water. The find is located no more than 3 miles from the longtail discovery, which encountered approximately 256 feet of high-quality oil-bearing sandstone reservoir. 

The Stabroek Block is a staggering 6.6. million acres and undoubtedly has much more to offer companies and the Guyana economy.

Mike Cousins, Senior Vice President of Exploration and New Ventures for ExxonMobil said:

“This discovery helps to further inform the development of the Turbot area. Together with our partners, ExxonMobil is deploying industry-leading capabilities to identify projects that can be developed efficiently in a cost-effective way”.

Hurricane Energy produced a light oil discovery with their second of three wells in the Greater Warwick area

7. Hurricane Energy, light oil discovery
Offshore UK

The Greater Warwick Area in the UK Continental Shelf is currently undergoing a three well program, and Hurricane Energy have this month announced that the second well drilled, their Lincoln Crestal well has produced a light oil discovery. 

The well was drilled to a total depth of 1,780m, which also included a horizontal portion of 720m. The well will now be suspended whilst other technical evaluations take place with a look to a tie-back with the Aoka Mizu FPSO some time in 2020 which would then provide Hurricane with more accurate data. The well was drilled by the Transocean Leader, semi-sub. This drillship will now move to the third well, 204/30b-A to begin drilling the final well. 

Dr Robert Trice, Chief Executive of Hurricane Energy said:

“We are delighted with the results of the Lincoln Crestal well. We have confirmed the presence of light oil which can be produced at commercial rates. The Lincoln Crestal well is now planned to be tied back to the Aoka Mizu FPSO next year. This would make Lincoln the second producing basement field in the UK. 

"Based on the result of the 2016 Lincoln well, RPS Energy assigned 2C contingent resources of 604 million barrels of oil equivalent to Lincoln. This successful result brings us closer to monetizing this huge resource."

ExxonMobil added 3 additional blocks to their Brazilian Portfolio in September 2019

8. ExxonMobil, awarded 3 blocks 
Offshore Brazil

Brazil's permanent bidding round has afforded ExxonMobil three additional blocks to its offshore Brazilian portfolio.

Brazil's regulator, the National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels, put up for auction 33 blocks in the Sergipe-Alagoas, Parnaiba, Potiguar and Reconcavo Basins along with a further 12 blocks with marginal prospects in the Potiguar, Sergipe-Algoas, Reconcavo and Espirito Santo Basins. The consortium, led by ExxonMobil with a 50% interest won three blocks, the SEAL-M-505, SEAL-M-575 and SEAL-M-637. Other partners of the consortium include Murphy Oil and Enauta.

4 blocks in the UK North Sea were awarded to United Oil in the 31st licensing round in September 2019

9. United Oil, awarded 4 blocks
Offshore UK

United Oil, an exploration and development company based in the UK has been awarded on a 100% basis 4 blocks which include 14/15C, 15/11C, 15/12A & 15/13C during the conclusion of the UK's 31st Licensing Round. 

The blocks cover around 500km2 and include the Zeta Prospect. This prospect alone, United Oil state could contain around 90 barrels of in-place oil. United Oil have previous experience in this area, with their Crown Discovery made less than 10km away. The blocks were awarded on the basis that United Oil utilise high-quality 3D seismic datasheet, as well as detailed geological and geophysical analysis. The purpose of this analysis is to allow United Oil to better appraise the results of the block's potential, before making any commitment to a drilling campaign. 

Jonathan Leather, United Oil and Gas COO said:

“We are delighted with these awards, which based on extensive technical work carried out over the available acreage ahead of the application were our primary focus for the 31st round. This is our second successful UK licensing round and our largest award to date. United has done well to be included in the roster of companies which have been successful in this round, including Chrysaor, Equinor, Chevron and Total”. 

Repsol Norge will drill a wildcat well in the Yme Field offshore Norway

10. Repsol, Yme Field permit
North Sea 

Repsol Norge has been granted a drilling permit to drill a wildcat well within the production license 910, Offshore Norway. The well will be drilled around 3 km’s east of the Yme Field. The license itself was awarded on March 2, 2018 and Repsol will drill the first well (9/2-12) within this block. The well will be drilled using the Saipem Scarabeo 8 semi-sub, which has previously been approved to drill within the area.  

Repsol are partnering with Okea on the license. A representative for Okea commented:

“With this important milestone achieved the Yme New Development project is on schedule for first oil in 1H 2020,”

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The top 10 offshore exploration discoveries and awards in September 2019 - Time to read 11 min
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