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Great Expectations: Oil and Gas Drilling Campaigns in 2019

A number of interesting, but not very adventurous, drilling campaigns in oil and gas exploration are planned for 2019.
This article appeared in Vol. 16, No. 1 - 2019

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Planned Oil and Gas Drilling Campaigns for 2019

A summary of expected wildcat drilling campaigns around the world for 2019 suggests a continuing trend of fewer wells, mostly clustering in and near proven core basins, with few unproven frontier basins being tested.

  • Oil and gas drilling activity planned for 2019. Source: NVentures.

The Usual Suspects

South America’s Atlantic Margin deepwater trend will continue to catch the headlines in 2019 following ExxonMobil’s world-beater Starbroek Block (CNOOC and Hess partners), with approximately 5 Bbo already discovered. Immediately south-west in 100m water, Repsol’s Kaieteur-1 (Kanuku Block, Tullow and Total partners) will target a similar Upper Cretaceous fan system. With dry wells to the north and south, this is not a straight extension of the Liza play. It will be closely watched by Tullow and partners Total and Eco on the adjacent Orinduik Block as it is apparently on trend with their planned Amatuk-1 and Latuk-1. After two dry wells in Namibia, Tullow and Eco are shifting their subsurface allegiance to Guyana, but Total will stay with Namibia, possibly testing the huge Venus prospect in the ultra-deepwater Orange Basin later in 2019.

Suriname waits to claim its place in the hydrocarbon hall of fame, after a number of high-profile wells (Kosmos, Tullow) had light oil and condensate shows but were non- commercial. Tullow, with Israeli explorer Ratio, will try again, testing the 400 MMbo Block 47 Goliatberg prospect, while Kosmos, with new partners Chevron and Hess, will continue their efforts on Block 42 withApetina-1 and Aurora-1. In French Guiana Total plans to drill Nasua-1 in 2,000m water.

Elsewhere, the majors will test recent trends, with ExxonMobil in Cyprus, Eni and Sasol in South Africa, ExxonMobil and Eni in the Angoche Basin offshore Mozambique, and Murphy, BP, Premier and Petronas offshore Mexico, where the Sureste Basin (similar in style and scale to Lower Congo and Campos), in particular, holds great promise.

Testing New Hydrocarbon Plays

Away from the big names, smaller firms with regional focus plan to test new and challenging plays with the drill bit. Amerisur (and Oxy) will carry out a 3–6 well programme in Colombia’s Putamayo Basin. Southern Australia’s Otway Basin welcomes exploration drilling back in shallow waters, with Cooper Energy eyeing two wildcats, Annie and Elanora, which could deliver 200 Bcf in a high value, low-cost basin where gas is king in both demand and price. Octant Energy will drill up to five wells in southern Kenya and north Tanzania coastal basins. Guinea Bissau and AGC may see new drilling after a hiatus of over a decade, with Svenska pushing ahead with their SNE-style platform edge Atum and Anchovie targets. Impact Oil & Gas may get to taste drilling success with partners CNOOC in AGC this year, and with Total in the Orange Basin.

Atlantic Ireland will return to centre stage later in 2019, as CNOOC announced an all-Irish asset swap with ExxonMobil to fund the Iolar well in Block 3/18, targeting a pre- to syn-rift Jurassic structural play on the west flank of the Porcupine Basin. Total has taken the devil by the horns and joined Providence for the nearby Diablo prospect. Further Irish excitement could come if Providence find partners for the drill-ready Newgrange Prospect (Block 6/14), at Eni’s Dunquin South (with Repsol, Providence and Sosina, FEL 3/04) and Europa’s Corrib lookalike at Inishkea (subject to joint ventures concluding).

Oil and Gas 'Drilling Clubs'

One interesting development to watch for in 2019 is special purpose ‘drilling clubs’, partly driven by drilling companies sharing more risk. Seapulse and Maersk, for example, plan to expedite the JV process across a varied portfolio of high-graded prospects, targeting 12 wells in the next two years. This will be a welcome trend in an otherwise risk-adverse exploration industry.

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