Cameroon offers deepwater and onshore E&P in third licensing round

Cameroon looks to attract E&P in deep water and onshore plays, plus Brown & Root upgrades construction vessel for Asia-Pacific deepwater projects.

Unlicensed deep water and onshore acreage has been earmarked for offering under Cameroon`s third licensing round by state firm Societe Nationale des Hydrocarbures (SNH).

The Cameroon licensing round will be open from Sept. 30, 1999 to Mar. 31, 2000, and will comprise offshore acreage in the Douala/Kribi-Campo basin in the southwest extent of Cameroon`s offshore territory, and the Logone Birni basin in Northern Cameroon to the south of Lake Chad.

Richard Bray, associate geoscientist at Exploration Consultants Ltd., Henley-on-Thames, U.K., said that while the acreage to be offered has been decided, SNH is expected to redefine license boundaries ahead of the round, based on recent seismic data acquired over the two areas.

Exploration Consultants said: "Both the offshore and onshore regions being offered are considered to have significant potential for new hydrocarbon discoveries. Both areas are covered by extensive new and historical seismic surveys, but neither has yet been explored by drilling."

The offshore acreage covers 2,400 sq km of water ranging from 200 m to 1,500 m in depth. The Douala/Kribi-Campo basin was said to constitute the most northerly part of the West African basin system, " of the world`s most prolific petroleum provinces."

The nearest producing field is Kribi which lies 30 km to the east of the open acreage. Exploration Consultants said the area on offer is covered by 1,500 line km of 2-D seismic data, including 1,200 km acquired by Western Geophysical Inc. in 1998: "The data reveal a thick, highly prospective sequence of Cretaceous and Tertiary sediments, with recognized prospects in a variety of deep water plays."

The onshore acreage is covered by 1,300 line km of 2-D data, of which 1,000 km was acquired in 1997 by Geofyzika AS: "These data confirm the existence of a Cretaceous rift basin overlain by Tertiary deposits beneath the Quaternary cover of the Lake Chad basin."

The Logone Birni basin was said to form part of the Cretaceous and Tertiary Central African rift system, which in neighboring Niger and Chad contains seven oil and gas discoveries: "The planned pipeline from the Doba oil fields in Chad, through northeastern Cameroon to Kribi, will provide export infrastructure for any discoveries made in the Logone Birni region."

Exploration Consultants said that promotional seminars will be organized in London and Houston in mid-September, though dates have yet to be fixed. Meanwhile, the Cameroon government is expected to pass new, attractive petroleum legislation ahead of the licensing round.

Future projects

BP Amoco plc disclosed an oil strike in 1,362 m of water on Block 18 offshore Angola. The Plutonia-1 well flowed at to 5,700 b/d of oil on a restricted choke size.

Earlier this year BP Amoco tested 6,500 b/d of oil from another discovery well on the block - Platina-1. BP Amoco said further geological and engineering studies are required to evaluate the two discoveries fully.

BP Amoco was one of three operators winning further deep water licenses off Angola, which is the world`s current red-hot play (OGJ, June 7, 1999, p. 32).

U.K. electric power utility Eastern Group plc, Ipswich, received U.K. Department of Industry approval to convert a 1,000 MW coal-fired power plant at Drakelow for running on coal, gas, or a combination of the two.

The upgrade is intended to improve the environmental impact of the plant, increasing the options to extend its life while adding operational flexibility. Eastern has applied for consent for a similar conversion at its 1,000 MW Rugeley power station.

Look for a rekindling of interest in Namibian offshore exploration now that the National Petroleum Corp. of Namibia has adopted an open licensing system, after no formal bids were made for licenses under the country`s recent third licensing round.

The Namibian state firm blamed the lack of success of its own third licensing round on the downturn in the world economy and the low oil price during the period September 1998 to February 1999.

The round closed on Mar 31, 1999 and while "numerous inquiries" were received, no companies submitted formal bids. Hence Namibia has adopted an open door policy for all available acreage will immediate effect.

The state company said the move is regarded only as a temporary measure: "The fact that despite this international downturn Shell Exploration & Production Namibia is still actively pursuing development of the large Kudu gas field is a good indicator for the future of exploration for hydrocarbons in Namibia."

Project Focus: Brown & Root completes upgrade of construction vessel

The Brown & Root Energy Services unit of Halliburton Co., Dallas, has completed an upgrade of its Rockwater 2 construction vessel at a cost of $12 million.

The upgrade was carried out in Singapore and was intended to expand the ship`s deepwater construction work capability. Brown & Root has deployed the ship in the Asia-Pacific region since 1993 and carried out the upgrade with a view to emerging deepwater markets in the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Australia, and Indonesia.

The ship was lengthened by more than 20 m to 120 m, and other additions included: a new 150 metric tons crane; a repositioned 100 ton crane; a new dynammic positioning system; increased fuel oil storage; a second moonpool; expanded accommodation to take up to 106 personnel.

The increased deck space from 650 to more than 1,000 sq m was said to enable the ship to transport and installed large structures and multiple reels for installing flexibles, power cables, and umbilicals.

Rockwater 2 also carries a 16-man saturation diving system rated to 300 m water depth. Brown & Root said the system comprises three twin-lock deck decompression chambers, two for six divers and one for four divers, and three entry locks. The three-man diving bell is deployed via an aerated moonpool; a self propelled 16-man hyperbaric rescue vessel is installed for emergency evacuation of divers.

More in Discoveries