LIBYA: First Success for Sonatrach
Sonatrach’s first well on what is highly prospective acreage has been completed as an oil and gas discovery. Wildcat A1-96/1 is in Area 96 in the Ghadames Basin, about 650 km south-west of Tripoli and very close to the border with Algeria. The well, drilled by its SIPEX subsidiary, was tested flowing 2,188 bpd of 45° API oil and 1.5 MMcfgd between 1,881 and 1,884m in the Devonian Tahara Formation. Area 96 was awarded in Dec 2007 with a work obligation that includes the acquisition of 2,600 km2 of 3D seismic, 2,000 km of 2D seismic and the drilling of eight wells within the first five years.
Sonatrach resumed exploratory operations in Libya in June 2012, following a suspension for more than a year due to security concerns caused by the February 2011 uprising. The country’s oil production had come to a virtual standstill by the summer of 2011 but bounced back to about 1.4 MMbpd in January 2013, according to official data. With the oil sector the mainstay of the economy, Libya aims to increase its oil production to 1.7 MMbpd by the end of 2013, even though recent events would suggest security remains precarious. Interests in Area 96 are held by SIPEX (operator, 50%), Indian Oil Corporation (25%) and Oil India (25%).
Qatar: First Gas Discovery in 42 Years
Operating the 544 km2 offshore Block 4N (Khuff) concession, Wintershall has successfully appraised its WIQ4N-1 gas discovery of 2011 and has established the find as a major gas field with in-place resource of around 2.5 Tcf. The first appraisal, WIQ4N-2, is believed to have been suspended early in 2013 after an extensive testing program that lasted for much of the second half of 2012. A second appraisal is due to get underway shortly to further define the country’s first gas discovery in the 42 years since it established the North Field, with reserves in excess of 850 Tcf, as the world’s largest gas field. Energy Minister Mohammed bin Saleh Al-Sadah, who is also managing director of Qatar Petroleum, said the Wintershall discovery was part of an effort by the country to “prudently explore for and develop our natural resources” and that it will contribute to the country’s economic prosperity.
Block 4N is located in around 70m of water to the north of Qatar and is in direct proximity to the North Field. Interests are held by Wintershall (80%) and Mitsui (20%). Wintershall is also operator for the 1,665 km2 offshore Block 3, which was awarded in 2007. The first 3D seismic surveys in this area were completed in summer 2010 and two wells are due to be drilled in 2013.
Chile: Gas FindGeoPark Holdings says its Palos Quemados 1 wildcat in the Tranquilo Block, Magallanes (Austral) Basin in the far south of the country is a gas discovery that has major implications for the area. The well was drilled to a total depth of 1,600m and a test conducted in the El Salto Formation, at approximately 805m, yielded a flow of 4 MMcfgpd through a 10 mm choke and with a well head pressure of 1,050 psi. Longer term production testing will be required to determine stabilized flow rates and the extent of the reservoir. The Palos Quemados 1 well is located approximately 6 km from a regional gas pipeline and studies are underway to assess facilities needed to connect the gas to market.
Significantly, Palos Quemados 1 is the first gas discovery in the Magallanes Fold and Thrust Belt in more than 40 years, prompting the GeoPark’s chief executive officer, James F. Park, to say, “The result from this new gas field discovery in Palos Quemados is significant because it confirms the exploratory potential and prospectivity of the western part of the Magallanes Basin where additional opportunities have been identified.” Prior to this result GeoPark, the largest privately owned producer in Chile, had formally advised the Ministry of Energy that the partners in the Tranquilo block had elected to not proceed with the second exploratory period, relinquishing all but a 374 km2 area that consists of protected exploitation zones for the Cabo Negro, Marcou Sur, Maria Antonieta, and Palos Quemados prospects.
GeoPark Magallanes Ltda. operates the Tranquilo Block with 29% interest on behalf of its JV partners Pluspetrol Chile Corp (29%), Wintershall Chile Ltda. (25%) and Methanex Chile SA (17%).
Egypt: Deeper Western Desert Play
Eni has made a new oil discovery with its Meleiha Rosa North 1X wildcat located in the Meleiha Concession, in the Western Desert of Egypt, a second success in the company’s strategy to refocus exploration activities in Egypt by targeting deeper oil plays in the area. Located in the Meleiha block, onshore Shoushan sub-basin, the well encountered a total pay of 80m of multiple good quality sandstones of the Bahariya, Alam El Bueib, Khtatba (Upper and Lower Safa) and Ras Qattara formations. Tests have yielded a 43°–48°crude at good rates and at least two development wells are planned in 2013. Each is expected to yield 2,000 bopd with output delivered to the nearby processing facilities at the Meleiha field.
The Western Desert’s deeper potential has been boosted over the past year with the company also scoring another sizable discovery in May 2012 with the Emry Deep 1 wildcat. Drilled to a total depth of 3,628m it encountered over 76m of net pay in multiple sandstones of the Lower Cretaceous Alam El Bueib Member. The company estimates the resource at 150–250 MMbo in place with production now exceeding 18,000 bopd. The short time to market of these discoveries is in line with Eni’s strategy to focus on fast-track development of conventional oil assets. This latest result confirms that the Meleiha Concession still holds significant un-tapped deep exploration potential that has been enhanced by the recently acquired 3D seismic and the new geological models derived from it.