BHP Billiton farms into deepwater Trinidad and Tobago blocks

BHP Billiton Ltd. has acquired a 70% stake in BP Trinidad & Tobago’s (BPTT) two deepwater blocks off Trinidad and Tobago’s east coast, leaving the Caribbean twin-island nation’s largest gas producer with a 30% interest in Blocks TTDAA 14 and 23(a).

The move has been confirmed by BPTT parent firm BP PLC, which also confirmed that it has gained approval from the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs for the change in share ownership as well as BHP receiving clearance to serve as the blocks’ operator.

In an e-mail to OGJ, BP said it remains committed to Trinidad with a growing portfolio of assets in the Columbus basin “identified through the interpretation of recently acquired ocean-bottom cable (OBC) 3D seismic data.”

There is speculation that BP’s OBC 3D seismic data have convinced the company that it had significantly more gas in the Columbus basin than the estimated 10 tcf now on its books.

Already the company has stated that its Angelin field, which was originally estimated at 1.4 tcf, has had its reserves upgraded because of the OBS.

“Better definition of reflectors, faults, and imaging deep and below shallow gas have all been part of the significant uplift. These new data have already resulted in significant additions to proved reserves in Angelin field and is allowing BPTT to progress the field into our projects organization to plan a development.” BP told OGJ.

Columbus basin

The Columbus basin is a prolific oil and gas province that produces more than 1 billion bbl of light, sweet crude. BPTT is estimated to have more than 13 tcf of proved reserves in the basin, having already produced more than 8 tcf of gas.

BP Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley recently told OGJ, “Final interpretation of the seismic survey data will take time, but the early results have given us confidence that there is still a lot of untapped potential in the basin.”

In July 2011, BP Exploration Operating Co. won the bid, subject to successful negotiations, and was awarded 100% interest and operatorship of Blocks 23(a) and TTDAA 14 off Trinidad and Tobago’s east coast. Spanning 2,600 sq km, Block 23(a) lies in 2,000 m of water about 300 km northeast of BP’s Galeota Point onshore processing facility. The adjacent TTDAA 14 covers 1,000 sq km with similar water depths.

BHP Billiton has aggressively gone after acreage in Trinidad and Tobago’s deep water having already signed production-sharing contracts for Blocks 23(b) 5, 6, 28, and 29.

Trinidad and Tobago’s deep water frontier has never been explored. So far, exploration in the twin-island nation has been on land and in shallow water on the continental shelf. However, it is believed that, like Nigeria, there was massive migration of hydrocarbons in the deep water off the continental shelf, which is a theory that drives today’s deepwater drilling.

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