A Minute To Read

Production Starts in Block 31, Pipeline Attacks in Nigeria, Lofoten Island Drilling Nearer?, New Barents Sea Survey, Reservoir Monitoring, Fully Integrated Geoscience Group
This article appeared in Vol. 10, No. 1 - 2013


Production Starts in Block 31

A view from a helicopter of BP’s Plutao, Saturno, Venus and Marte (PSVM) Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel. Source: BP p.l.c. Production began at the end of January from the BP-operated Block 31 in Angola, one of the largest subsea developments in the world. The development will produce from four oil fields – Plutao, Saturno, Venus and Marte (PSVM) – which were discovered between 2002 and 2004 in water up to 2,000m deep, some 400 km north-west of Luanda. Initial production of around 70,000 bopd will come from three production wells in the Plutao field and is expected to ramp up to plateau rates of 150,000 bopd over the coming year as the Saturno, Venus and Marte fields come on stream in 2013 and 2014. Nineteen discoveries have been made on Block 31 to date, which covers an area of 5,349 km2 in water depths which range from 1,500 to over 2,500m.

PSVM produces through a Floating Production, Storage and Offloading vessel (FPSO) which has 1.6 MMbo of storage capacity. It is the first FPSO in Angola’s ultra-deep water. A total of 40 production, gas and water injection wells will be connected to the FPSO through 15 subsea manifolds and associated subsea equipment.

The International Monetary Fund recently stated that it expects Angola’s oil production, which was 1.73 MMbopd last year, to grow more than 4% in 2013 to 1.8 MMbopd. Angola is Africa’s second-largest oil producer after Nigeria.

Pipeline Attacks in Nigeria

Attacks on pipelines have become commonplace in the oil-rich Niger Delta, and are symptomatic of the unrest in that volatile province. Previously the attacks were often the work of militants, who used explosives to blow up sections of the pipeline as a protest against foreign oil companies producing in the area.

But since a 2009 government-sponsored amnesty programme cut down on the militant strikes, the pipelines have been subject to an increase in attacks with a different motive. Less sophisticated, the attackers use hacksaws and blowtorches to siphon off the oil inside the pipeline, a process known as ‘bunkering’. Although individually small scale, overall these thefts of crude have risen so that the International Energy Agency has estimated that they could cost Nigeria about $7 billion a year. Bunkering has also spread out of the Niger Delta to other parts of southern Nigeria, and is reputed to be causing periodic shortages in the towns and cities of this impoverished yet resource-rich nation, where 70% of the population live below the poverty line.

Every year, thousands of people lose their lives as a result of accidents caused by these ruptured lines. And the environmental effect is devastating, as it is estimated that more oil is spilled annually from the delta’s network of terminals, pipes, pumping stations and platforms than was lost into the Gulf of Mexico from the Macondo blow-out.

Lofoten Island Drilling Nearer?

Exploration off the Lofoten Islands is strongly opposed by environmentalists Source: Halfdan Cartens As discussed in GEO ExPro Vol. 9 No. 5, the seas around Norway’s remote northern Lofoten Islands remain the largest unopened section of the Norwegian Atlantic Ocean, and environmentalists are strongly opposed to these pristine waters being licensed for hydrocarbon exploration. At the beginning of February, however, this possibility moved a step closer, when Norway’s ruling Labour Party said it may support exploration, suggesting that the way forward would be an impact assessment study. This is contrary to their previous stance, as two years ago, after months of dispute, they struck a deal with their smaller coalition partners to forbid oil exploration off the islands until the parliamentary term ends in 2013.

The Lofoten Islands, 200 km north of the Arctic Circle, have unique cold water reefs and are an important spawning ground for cod. They shelter killer and sperm whales and are a very popular destination for hikers, mountaineers and birdwatchers, and there are moves to make them a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But the area is also believed to hold at least 1.3 Bboe, and the Norwegians speculate that discoveries in this area could help boost their production, which is expected to fall to a 25-year low this year.

New Barents Sea Survey

The new multiclient survey lies close to a number of recent discoveries. Source: Searcher Seismic One of the hottest areas in north-west Europe at the moment is the Barents Sea, where a number of major discoveries have been made in recent years, including the giant Skrugard and Havis finds, which have estimated combined reserves of between 400 and 600 MMbo. With annual licensing rounds and increasing infrastructure in the region, the need for additional information about the area is always strong, with industry demand for acreage in the Barents Sea at an all-time high.

Searcher Seismic, in partnership with Dolphin Geophysical, have recently announced that they are about to undertake a non-exclusive 3D high resolution survey, which will cover 2,880 km2 of the Troms area in the southern Barents Sea, about 100 km from the coast. This acreage recently opened for exploration and is located immediately adjacent to proven oil and gas fields. Interpretation suggests that the survey, which is known as Rødspurv, covers an area which is thought to be charged from the north by the Mesozoic rocks located down dip of the Troms-Finnmark fault complex, with potential reservoirs being Permian and Carboniferous clastics.

Reservoir Monitoring

Reservoir monitoring system on the seabed. Source: Octio The transition from technology development to commercialisation is a very critical phase of any technology innovation company. A main shareholder securing this transition as well as giving valuable input for further development is crucial for long-term success.

Norwegian company OCTIO specialises in the permanent and semi-permanent monitoring of reservoirs, drilling and injection wells using high vector fidelity seismic MEMS sensors with interface to EM, chemical, biological and oceanographic sensors. Having developed its systems over a number of years, it has now joined forces with Statoil Technology Invest, which has become a major shareholder. Statoil is considered one of the world’s leading oil companies with regard to enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and is continuously seeking solutions to improve this further, combined with a high focus on reducing risk and cost of operation.

Fully Integrated Geoscience Group

From the beginning of February 2013, all the geoscience divisions of Fugro will be incorporated into their new home in CGG, creating a fully integrated Geoscience group which the company believes holds a leading position in the fast growing high-end integrated geology and geophysics and reservoir market. Over 2,500 ex-Fugro employees have been incorporated into this new group. The agreement with Fugro which led to this also includes strategic partnerships, such as the creation of a joint venture company, Seabed Geosolutions, owned 60%/40% by Fugro and CGG, which will focus on the rapidly growing seabed acquisition market, and a marketing and selling multi-client agreement for CGG to sell Fugro’s existing 3D data, which remains owned by Fugro.

As part of this development the company has decided to shorten and simplify its brand name from CGGVeritas to CGG, capitalising on the heritage of this long-established company.


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