Starfish start-up could ease Trinidad and Tobago’s tight gas supplies

Trinidad and Tobago’s tight natural gas supply could be eased within the next 4 months with the startup of 300 MMscfd of gas from BG Group’s Starfish development. BG Group said the project, which involves the drilling of four subsea wells and a 10-km subsea tieback to the Dolphin A platform, is on schedule for this year’s fourth quarter.

In an e-mail response to OGJ, BG Group said the gas from Starfish will be processed, commingled with Dolphin field production, and delivered via existing subsea pipelines to shore to supply existing contractual commitments with Trinidad and Tobago’s National Gas Co. (NGC) and Atlantic LNG Co. of Trinidad & Tobago. The wells are being drilled by the Diamond Ocean Lexington rig.

This will be good news for both Atlantic LNG and the island’s significant downstream sector, which has suffered over the last 2 years from gas curtailment due to significant maintenance work by the country’s largest gas supplier BP Trinidad & Tobago (BPTT).

Trinidad and Tobago is the largest exporter of methanol in the world and the largest exporter of ammonia and urea to the US. It is also the largest exporter of LNG in the Western Hemisphere.

Statistics show that for the first 4 months of 2014 there were average daily swings in gas production on a month-by-month basis by as much as 400 MMscfd. In January for example the production of gas on the Caribbean island averaged 4,006 MMcfd, which was curtailed due to BPTT’s decision to take its Savontte well offline.

BPTT explained, “Although the period of intensified maintenance activity has ended, in line with regular business activity, there are, from time to time, normal operating activities that may have short term impact on production such as rig moves, heavy lifts or delays on the drilling program. We strive, as far as possible, to work with all stakeholders including the government, and downstream, to coordinate these activities to mitigate impact on their operations.”

The company said in the first quarter of 2014 it completed drilling on the Savonette 6 well and also took the Savonette platform offline to facilitate heavy lifting required for the start of drilling of the Savonette 7 well. The platform was brought back on production once drilling started. It added that this was a necessary outage to continue to progress its drilling program and bring gas online. “This period of outage would have had an impact on gas supply.” BPTT told OGJ.

Production ebbs, flows

However in February and March gas production increased to 4,397 MMcfd and 4,361 on account of a 400 MMcfd increase in production from BPTT.

That increase in crude production would not last however and in April gas production plummeted to its lowest production for 2014 to below the 4,000 MMcfd average to 3,973 MMcfd.

This fall in production was on account of at 20% decline in production from BGTT while BP’s production again declined by 150 MMcfd.

According to the statistics in April BGTT’s production was down to 797 MMcfd from 1,006 MMcfd and over 1,000 MMcfd for the first 3 months of 2014. Meanwhile BPTT’s production was down from 2,329 MMcfd to 2,168 MMcfd. BHP Billiton, EOG, and Petortrin have been able to generally keep their production stable according to the figures.

In its first quarter report Methanex noted that there was gas curtailment that negatively impacted the company’s performance in Trinidad.

Industry sources tell OGJ that the ebbs and flow in the supply was negatively impacting the equipment and causing more maintenance work than normal.

Starfish, a field discovered by BG Trinidad & Tobago in 1998, is expected to be developed by yearend and bring gas into production.

The Starfish field, which was discovered in 1998, straddles Block 5(a) and Block E and forms part of the East Coast Marine Area (ECMA). ECMA is operated by BG Group subsidiaries on behalf of the joint venture with Chevron Trinidad and Tobago Resources SRL of which each hold 50% participating interest.

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