Exploration/Development Briefs

April 2, 2012


Apache Corp. in February initiated a long-term test of the Vaca Muerta shale at the Hua.x-1 well on the 250,000-acre Huacalera block in the western Neuquen basin in Argentina, said partner Americas Petrogas Inc., Calgary.

The shallower Quintuco and Mulichinco zones are to be tested later.

Using leading-edge core and integrated petrophysical analyses carried out in late 2011, Apache perforated a 360-ft interval below 12,465 ft in the Vaca Muerta, which is 1,742 ft thick in the well. The selected interval "appears to hold favorable flow potential based on the analyses," Americas Petrogas said.

Apache placed more than 300,000 lb. of proppant in the formation in a hydraulic fracture stimulation completed in late February, and the well is flowing gas and load water through temporary test facilities. Tests are to continue for 90 days.

Americas Petrogas' partners on the block include Apache and Gas y Petroleo. Americas Petrogas said it will pursue a program of as many as 10 more Vaca Muerta and Los Molles shale wells with partners that include ExxonMobil Corp. and Apache in the next 12-18 months.


India has signed production-sharing contracts on 13 of 16 exploration blocks awarded in the ninth bid round under the country's new exploration licensing policy.

The government had received 74 bids for 33 of the 34 blocks offered. Of the 16 blocks just awarded, 14 are onshore and two are in shallow water. Bids for 10 other blocks were rejected as giving the government too low a percentage of profit petroleum. The government also judged inadequate the net worth of the single bidder for the CB-ONN-2010/7 block and rejected that bid.

Three of the 16 PSCs weren't signed because the bidder could not be present. The other six blocks will be considered for award separately, the government said.

The 13 most recent signings bring the number of signed PSCs under the NELP program to 248.


African Petroleum Corp. Ltd., Perth, has secured the Ocean Rig UDW Eirik Raude deepwater fifth generation semisubmersible to start a two-well drilling program off West Africa in the third or fourth quarter of 2012.

The rig will continue African Petroleum's drilling program on blocks 8 and 9 off Liberia. The company holds other blocks off West Africa, and the contract contains an option for a third well.

African Petroleum discovered oil in formations of Turnonian and Albian age at its Narina -1 discovery on Block 9 earlier this year (OGJ Online, Feb. 21, 2012).


Statoil ASA has been chosen as working operator for the pre-unit development phase of Johan Sverdrup field in the North Sea offshore Norway. In tandem with development studies, negotiations will progress regarding a unitization agreement between the various licensees.

Statoil is operator of PL265 with 40% interest, Petoro has 30%, DNO 20%, and Lundin Norway 10%. Lundin Norway is operator of PL501 with 40% interest, Statoil has 40%, and Maersk Oil Norway AS has 20%.

The companies' main focus is to deliver a common field development plan to the Norwegian authorities for sanctioning by the government. The pre-unit agreement also covers data exchange in the respective production licensees.


Argentina's YPF SA has signed a contract with ANCAP for reconnaissance exploration of a 10,000 sq km area of northernmost Uruguay.

The area is in Artigas, Salto, Tacuarembo, and Rivera provinces, along the borders with Argentina and Brazil. The contract is for 1 year with an optional second year. If initial work is promising, YPF could request an exploration and exploitation contract.

The minimum work program includes geochemical prospecting, petrographic and petrophysical research, reprocessing 500 line-km of 2D seismic, and reinterpretation of electric profiles.


Ram Power Corp., Reno, Nev., has signed a letter of intent with SNC-Lavalin Constructors Inc. for the construction of a 26-Mw geothermal power plant at Geysers steam field in northern California.

SNC would engineer, design, and procure parts and equipment for the construction and commissioning of the project.

At the end of the LOI period, slated for May, Ram Power plans to execute a definitive contract with SNC for the engineering, procurement, and construction of the project.

Four wells were drilled and two more are planned near the plant site in eastern Sonoma County.

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