Noble Energy to develop Aseng gas-condensate field

Uchenna Izundu
OGJ International Editor

LONDON, July 22 -- Noble Energy Inc. will proceed with bringing its $1.3 billion Aseng oil and gas-condensate project onstream by mid-2012 after receiving approval from the company board, its partners, and the nation’s energy ministry.

Formerly known as Benita, Aseng was discovered in 2007 as a gas-condensate field on Block I in the Douala basin off Equatorial Guinea. Subsequently, two appraisal wells were drilled, with the first identifying the oil resources and the second determining downdip reservoir limits.

Aseng will be the first oil development on Equatorial Guinea’s side of the Douala basin and Noble’s first operated development in the country, where it will hold a 40% working interest.

Aseng will produce gas-condensate through five subsea wells tied to a floating production, storage, and offloading vessel in 3,100 ft of water. The oil will be stored on the vessel until sold, while the gas and water will be reinjected to maintain reservoir pressure and maximize liquids recovery. The FPSO will have a capacity of 120,000 b/d of liquids, including 80,000 b/d of oil. In addition, the vessel will be capable of reinjecting 170 MMcfd of gas. It will be able to store 1.5 million bbl of oil and condensate.

Noble will lease the FPSO and Aseng will produce 50,000 b/d of oil initially. It expects to recover 100-120 million bbl of hydrocarbon liquids over the project’s life, with reserve bookings beginning in 2009. “In addition, there is an estimated 450-550 bcf of gas resources at Aseng that will be produced as part of an integrated gas monetization project once the pressure maintenance phase is completed,” said Noble.

Development contracts will be awarded shortly as the company has completed the tendering process for the FPSO and subsea equipment: all long lead items have been secured.

Noble will use the Atwood Hunter semisubmersible rig for development work at Aseng in mid-2010. It has been drilling for Noble off Israel. A letter of intent has been signed on a second rig, which is expected to be delivered to Noble in first quarter 2010.

Charles D. Davidson, Noble’s chairman and chief executive officer, said the production from this project was a key component of its long-term growth strategy in West Africa and will provide critical infrastructure for our various other discoveries in the area.

Minister of Mines, Industry, and Energy Marcelino Owono Edu said the gas resources from Blocks I and O would contribute to plans for a regional gas hub.

The next development objectives for Noble in West Africa will be to accelerate and maximize condensate production at Belinda to the north on Block O through gas cycling, as well as advance an integrated gas monetization project. “Exploration activities are also expected to resume in 2010 on the 1.5 million gross acres the company holds in the underexplored Douala basin,” said Noble.

Noble’s partners on Block I include Atlas Petroleum International Ltd., the administrative operator, with a 29% participating interest, Glencore Exploration EG Ltd. with 25%, and Osborne Resources Ltd., a company within the PA Resources Group, with 6%. Equatorial Guinea state oil firm GEPetrol has a 5% carried interest.

In February, Noble said the test results from the “high-quality” Miocene reservoir on Block I off Equatorial Guinea yielded flow rates of 6,250 b/d of oil and 5.4 MMcfd of gas, with production rates limited by test equipment. Based on test information gathered, the Benita development wells are anticipated to produce 10,000 b/d. Samples taken indicated a oil gravity of 30° (OGJ Online, Feb. 14, 2009).

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