Eni has made a significant gas and condensate discovery with an exploration well testing the Nyonie Deep prospect in Block D4, approximately 13 km from the coast and 48 km from Libreville, the capital of Gabon. The discovery was made in the pre-salt layer of Gabon through the Nyonie Deep 1 well, which was drilled to a depth of approximately 4,313m in shallow water. The well encountered a 320m thick hydrocarbon-bearing section of in the pre-salt clastic sequence of Aptian age. The structure, which extends over an area of more, extends into Block D3, also than 40 km2 operated by Eni. Preliminary estimates suggest hydrocarbons in place could amount to 500 MMboe.
This is the third field to be discovered recently in shallow waters in such plays, after Nene Marine and Litchendjili Marine offshore Congo. According to Eni, the total estimated potential of these discoveries is about 3 Bboe.
Recent years has seen an explosion of interest in the highly prospective West African Transform Margin but an uptick in exploration offshore Gabon has yielded mixed results. Although Gabon’s deepwater potential offers significant upside, a string of disappointing drilling results may dampen interest in expensive exploration campaigns. In addition, the absence of a clear investment plan to capture and monetise gas precludes any significant increase in production. Harnessing gas will require infrastructure which the country lacks, and at this time the commerciality of the country’s offshore gas resources is questionable.