OGJ Newsletter

July 12, 2021


Talos to explore options after Pemex awarded Zama operatorship

Talos Energy Inc., Houston, will explore legal and strategic options after Mexico’s Ministry of Energy (SENER) designated Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) as operator of the Zama asset offshore Mexico, the company said July 5. The company was notified of the designation July 2.

“After six years of significant investments in Zama and the Mexican economy, as well as the delivery of a Zama development plan that is credible and in line with the objectives of Mexico, Talos is very disappointed with SENER’s sudden decision to award operatorship to Pemex, especially in light of the timing under which the award occurred,” the company said.

Discovered in 2017 by a Talos-led consortium with partners Premier Oil and Wintershall Dea, Zama is a shared reservoir that extends from Block 7 to neighboring AE-0152-Uchukil Asignación in the Cuencas del Sureste, in the Bay of Campeche in Mexico, operated by Pemex. Gross volumes are estimated at 735 MMboe of 2C resources, with 60% expected to be contained within Block 7.

Unitization efforts moved to a new phase in March, with SENER tasked with proposing finalized terms of a Unitization and Unit Operating Agreement (UUOA) for the field, as established by Mexican regulation (OGJ Online, Mar. 26, 2021).

Since being awarded Block 7 as the first private operator in the country, Talos drilled the exploratory well that led to the Zama field discovery in July 2017. Talos subsequently drilled three additional wells as part of the delineation of the field. Talos also advanced a complete Front End Engineering and Development (FEED) study and presented a development plan to the National Hydrocarbons Commission (CNH).

Earthstone adds Eagle Ford assets in separate transactions

Earthstone Energy Inc. has acquired working interests in Eagle Ford assets it operates in southern Gonzales County, Tex., from four separate sellers for an aggregate purchase price of $48 million in cash. The largest of the acquisition components, comprised of working interests owned by two affiliates of Titanium Exploration Partners LLC, constituted most of the total consideration.

Recent net production of the asset is about 1,150 boe/d (89% oil). The deals increase Earthstone’s working interest in the assets to 96% from 34%.

The company expects a second-quarter 2021 production impact of 400 boe/d (89% oil) and a second-half 2021 production impact of 1,000 boe/d (89% oil).

UKOGA forecasts hydrogen future for Bacton hub

The Bacton hub could provide low carbon energy for London and the southeast UK for decades to come and help in the drive to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, according to a study commissioned by the UK Oil and Gas Authority (UKOGA). The study suggests that a combination of natural gas to make blue hydrogen, wind to produce green hydrogen, ample space offshore for carbon storage, and easy access to markets mean hydrogen from Bacton could help decarbonize as much as 20% of the UK population.

Blue hydrogen is produced using natural gas and the report estimates that if this natural gas was used for hydrogen production there could be sufficient reserves in the area to last until the 2040s, with the produced carbon captured and stored offshore from Bacton. Green hydrogen is produced using renewable energy and electrolysis to split water. There are plans for about 15 Gw of wind capacity in the area which, if totally committed to green hydrogen production, could meet around half of the total estimated southeastern UK demand by 2050.

Green hydrogen is currently more expensive to produce than blue, but the report expects that as technology matures it will become cost-competitive during the 2040s.

Bacton wind farms, meanwhile, could produce nearly 40% of the UK government’s 40 Gw by 2030 target.

The gas fields of the Southern North Sea and the Bacton gas terminal, in Norfolk, have been part of the UK’s energy infrastructure for more than 50 years; with offshore wind being part of the mix since 2004.

 Exploration & Development Quick Takes

Santos launches FEED for Dorado development

Santos Ltd. has launched the front-end engineering and design (FEED) stage for its Dorado oil and gas project in the Bedout subbasin offshore northwest Western Australia.

The field, in permit WA-436-P in water depth of 95-160 km north of Port Hedland, will be developed in two phases.

Phase 1, with an estimated cost of $2 billion, includes production of oil and condensate through a wellhead platform and a floating production, storage, and offtake (FPSO) vessel. All gas produced (including 1.5% CO2) will be reinjected into the reservoir to maintain pressure and enhance liquids recovery. Phase 1 is expected to tap recoverable reserves of around 160 million bbl.

FEED for Phase 1 is scheduled to lead to final investment decision in mid-2022.

Phase 2 will concentrate on development of the natural gas and provide future backfill supply to Santos’ current domestic gas infrastructure in Western Australia.

Dorado is expected to begin production at a rate of 75,000-100,000 b/d of high-quality crude that will fetch a premium to regional pricing benchmarks.

FEED contracts for the platform and FPSO are being finalized and should be awarded during the next few months.

Potential future tie-ins include nearby Pavo and Apus prospects that will be drilled early 2022, the company said.

Dorado was discovered by Quadrant Energy Ltd. in 2018. Santos acquired Quadrant in August 2018 and drilled two successful appraisal wells in 2019.

Santos has 80% and operatorship of the field. Carnarvon Petroleum Ltd. holds the remaining 20%. As it has done with Barossa in the Timor Sea, Santos is looking to farm down its interest and is currently seeking interested parties to take non-operated equity in Dorado and potentially the company’s other assets in Western Australia.

Equinor brings Martin Linge online

Equinor Energy AS brought offshore Norway Martin Linge oil and gas field online on June 30 following start-up approval by Norway’s Petroleum Safety Authority in May.

Expected recoverable resources are about 260 MMboe. At plateau the field will produce about 115,000 boe/d.

Martin Linge, in 115 m of water 42 km west of Oseberg, is powered from shore and operated from an onshore control room in Stavanger. The platform receives power via a 162-km sea cable from the onshore substation at Kollsnes north of Bergen.

The platform was connected to shore power in December 2018 and was soon followed by the storage vessel on

the field—the world’s first storage vessel to receive power from shore, according to the operator.

Martin Linge is also the first platform on the Norwegian continental shelf to be put on stream from shore. The production wells and processing plant are operated from the control room, and offshore operators use tablets in the field to interact with colleagues in the control room and operations center.

Equinor is operator with 70% interest. Petoro AS holds the remaining 30%.

Challenger to further test discovery onshore Trinidad

Challenger Energy Group PLC plans to test the Saffron-2 appraisal well onshore southwest Trinidad by mid-July as initial analysis of the top two sections demonstrate production potential.

The well—drilled from the same well pad as the Saffron-1 discovery—is targeting the Lower Cruse reservoir, with Upper and Middle Cruse reservoirs as secondary targets (OGJ Online, May 26, 2021). The well is currently at about 3,850 ft against a target depth of 4,557 ft.

Petrophysical analysis from mudlog and electric wireline logs of Upper Cruse and Upper Middle Cruse show a total of 145 ft net oil-bearing reservoir in the 17 ½- in. hole section from Upper Cruse down to Upper Middle Cruse, and an additional 20 ft net oil-bearing reservoir in the 12 ¼- in. hole section from the remaining section of Upper Middle Cruse into Lower Middle Cruse. Work has commenced on understanding production potential from these secondary targets.

After reaching TD, the well will be lined and readied for production testing. Preparation for production testing (including perforation) will take 2-3 weeks.

Expected rates, based upon Saffron-1 well results, are 200-300 b/d. Budgeted total well cost is $3 million.

Challenger Energy is operator at Saffron (100%).

 Drilling & Production Quick Takes

ExxonMobil drills dry hole in Canje block, offshore Guyana

ExxonMobil drilled a dry hole in its Jabillo-1 well in Canje block, offshore Guyana, about 265 km northeast of Georgetown in 2,903 m of water (OGJ Online, May 9, 2021).

The well tested Upper Cretaceous reservoirs in a stratigraphic trap. The well was drilled to a target total depth of 6,475 m but encountered no hydrocarbons. It will now be plugged.

The Stena DrillMax rig is currently operating in the ExxonMobil-operated Stabroek block and is expected to move on to drill Sapote-1 in the eastern portion of Canje block. The well is expected to spud in mid-August with a 60-day estimated drilling time.

Sapote-1 is a separate and distinct target from Jabillo. The prospect lies about 100 km southeast of Jabillo and about 50 km north of the Haimara discovery in Stabroek block which encountered some 207 ft (63 m) of high-quality, gas-condensate bearing sandstone reservoir. It also lies about 60 km northwest of the Maka Central discovery in Block 58 which encountered some 164 ft (50 m) of high-quality, oil-bearing sandstone reservoir.

Canje block is operated by ExxonMobil and is held by ExxonMobil’s subsidiary Esso Exploration & Production Guyana Ltd. (35%) with partners TotalEnergies E&P Guyana BV (35%), JHI Associates (BVI) Inc. (17.5%), and Mid-Atlantic Oil & Gas Inc. (12.5%).

Rig selected for Buffalo-10 appraisal in Timor Sea

Carnarvon Petroleum Ltd. has selected a jack up drilling rig for the Buffalo-10 appraisal well in the East Timor sector of the western Timor Sea.

The company signed a letter of intent for the as-yet-unnamed vessel and a formal rig contract is being finalized. The well is scheduled to spud in late October.

Buffalo-10 is designed to evaluate the presence of a significant accumulation of attic oil in the field, left after the original development was shut in. Carnarvon says this interpretation has been supported using full waveform inversion technology to reprocess the 3D seismic data acquired over the prospect.

Carnarvon farmed out a 50% interest in the Buffalo redevelopment project to Advance Energy PLC in December 2020 and will be free-carried for the first $20 million of well costs. Carnarvon retained 50% interest and operatorship.

Buffalo field was discovered by BHP in 1996 when the permit was in Australian jurisdiction and brought on stream in 1999. It produced 20.5 million bbl of oil until it was shut in by Nexen in 2004.

When the Timor Sea marine boundary was redrawn in 2019, Buffalo came under East Timor jurisdiction.

CNOOC begins Weizhou 11-2 Phase 2 production

CNOOC Ltd. has started production from Phase 2 of the Weizhou 11-2 oil field project in Beibu Gulf in the South China Sea.

In addition to utilizing existing processing infrastructure, the project included construction of one simple unmanned wellhead platform. A total of 13 development wells are planned, including 7 production wells and 6 water injection wells. The project is expected to reach peak production of about 6,000 b/d of crude oil in 2022. Water depth at the site is about 40 m.

CNOOC is operator of the project with 100% interest.

Buru Energy spuds Currajong-1 in Western Australia

Buru Energy Ltd., Perth, has spudded the Currajong-1 exploration well in exploration permit (EP) 391 in the Canning basin in northwest Western Australia (OGJ Online, May 20, 2021). The well is 30 km west of Ungani field and about 70 km east of Broome.

The well is being drilled by the Ensign 963 rig as a vertical well to a planned total measured depth of 2,300 m and is expected to be completed by late July or early August. It is being drilled on a large structure defined by 3D seismic with a vertical closure of over 200 m and fault bounded with two-way dip closure. It is expected to have similar good quality reservoir and oil properties to Ungani oilfield and is at similar depths. Targeted mean prospective resources are 28 million bbl.

The well is the first in the exploration program under terms of farmin agreements executed in December 2020 under which Buru will be carried by Origin Energy Ltd., Sydney, for $16 million of drilling costs for two exploration wells (Currajong-1, and the upcoming Rafael-1) in addition to a further seismic program carry across several Buru-operated permits.

Buru and Origin Energy each have a 50% equity interest in the well and in EP 391.


Sinopec refineries add fresh alkylation capacity

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (Sinopec) has commissioned new alkylation units at two of its subsidiaries’ refineries in China.

E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co.’s DuPont Clean Technologies has completed startup of its proprietary STRATCO alkylation units recently installed at Zhongke (Guangdong) Refining & Petrochemical Co. Ltd.’s (ZGRPC) 10-million tonnes/year (tpy) integrated complex on Donghai Island, Zhanjiang City, Guangdong Province, and Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical Co. Ltd.’s (SPC) 14-million tpy refining and petrochemical complex in Jinshan District, Shanghai, DuPont said on June 15.

Designed to enable the two refineries to produce low-sulfur, high-octane, low-rvp alkylate that helps improve quality of their gasoline production to comply with China VI (equivalent to Euro 6) emission standards, the ZGRPC and SPC alkylation units—which process methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) raffinate feedstock—have alkylate production capacities of 9,240 b/sd 10,240 b/sd, respectively, DuPont said.

Now in operation, the two units bring the total number of STRATCO alkylation units commissioned at Sinopec refineries to six, with a final seventh unit scheduled for startup later this year, according to the service provider (OGJ Online, Apr. 21, 2021).

SPC’s new unit—which marks the second commercialization of a DuPont’s Model 74 Contactor reactor line developed to reduce the number of reactors required for an alkylation unit—officially entered operation and began producing alkylate product on Aug. 30, 2020, SPC said in a September 2020 release.

In an Oct. 22, 2020, release, DuPont confirmed startup of the first Model 74 Contactor reactor in a STRATCO alkylation unit at Sinopec Qilu Petrochemical Corp.’s refinery at Zibo, in China’s eastern province of Shandong.

Enterprise acquires NOVA Chemicals’ Texas ethylene storage, trading hub

Enterprise Products Partners LP has completed purchase of NOVA Chemicals Corp.’s 308-million lb underground ethylene storage cavern and trading hub (NOVA Hub)—the primary transaction point for spot ethylene trade at the US Gulf Coast—in Mont Belvieu, Tex.

Acquisition of the NOVA Hub comes as part of Enterprise’s strategy to grow its existing own ethylene network in the region, Chris D’Anna, senior vice-president of petrochemicals for Enterprise’s general partner, said on July 1.

“The combined [NOVA Hub] system offers multiple benefits for producers, consumers, and traders, such as increased physical connectivity, greater market liquidity, and pricing transparency, as well as improved access to Enterprise’s ethylene midstream services, including our export terminal and growing USGC pipeline system,” D’Anna said.

John Thayer, NOVA Chemicals’ senior vice-president of sales and marketing, said the decision to shed the Mont Belvieu ethylene storage and trading business represented the best long-term solution for the hub’s future as the company increasingly focuses on its core business of ethylene and polyethylene production.

Despite the change in ownership, NOVA Chemicals will remain a long-term storage customer in the Enterprise system, the companies said.

Further details regarding the transaction were not disclosed.

Neste’s Porvoo refinery completes major turnaround

Neste Corp. has wrapped a major turnaround at its 206,000-b/d refinery in the Kilpilahti industrial area of Porvoo, Finland (OGJ Online, Mar. 31, 2021).

Initiated in early April and originally scheduled to run 12 weeks, the planned maintenance event was concluded and the refinery returned to operation as of June 24, Neste said.

Requiring an investment of about €330 million, the turnaround included regulatory inspections, maintenance works, and asset-improvement initiatives at process equipment and pipelines required for the refinery’s ongoing safe and competitive operation, as well as a revamp of the site’s electrification and automation systems, said Jori Sahlsten, Neste Porvoo’s vice-president of production.

Alongside standard critical maintenance, the operator also confirmed it completed preparatory measures for processing of renewable and recycled materials at the site.

The refinery’s maintenance shutdown did not impact product deliveries to customers, and Neste’s harbor and distribution terminal in Porvoo remained in operation during the turnaround event.

The standard 5-year maintenance shutdown at Porvoo followed Neste’s late-2020 announcement that it will proceed with restructuring of its Finnish refining operations under a program that will involve permanently shuttering processing and production at its 58,000-b/d Naantali refinery as well as upgrading the Porvoo to co-processing renewable and circular raw materials (OGJ Online, Mar. 16, 2021).


Beacon Offshore to export Shenandoah gas through Discovery system

Williams Cos. has reached an export agreement with Beacon Offshore Energy Development LLC and its co-owner ShenHai LLC, a subsidiary of Navitas Petroleum, to provide offshore natural gas gathering and transportation services and onshore natural gas processing services to the Shenandoah development through Discovery infrastructure in the central Gulf of Mexico. Shenandoah is 160 miles off the coast of Louisiana in Walker Ridge Blocks 51, 52, and 53 of the Gulf of Mexico.

The agreement includes installation of a 5-mile offshore lateral pipeline from the Shenandoah platform to Discovery’s existing 400-MMcfd Keathley Canyon Connector pipeline, and additional onshore processing to handle the expected rich Shenandoah production. Gas will be transported to Discovery’s 600-MMcfd processing plant in Larose, La., and NGL will be fractionated and marketed at Discovery’s 32,000-b/d Paradis plant. Discovery is a 60-40 joint venture between Williams and DCP Midstream Partners LP.

Shenandoah is expected to come online as early as late 2024. Beacon will use multiple wells to develop an estimated 100-400 million bbl, targeting previously discovered oil-bearing Upper and Lower Wilcox reservoirs (OGJ Online, Oct. 16, 2019).

Beacon Offshore operates Shenandoah with 47% interest, the balance held by Navitas. Beacon acquired previous-operator LLOG Exploration Co. LLC’s 31% stake in the project in 2020.

German LNG files for planning permission

German LNG Terminal GmbH intends to apply for planning permission to build the terminal at its Brunsbüttel site. The application will cover, among other things, a jetty with two berths for ships up to Q-Max size (266,000 cu m), and distribution infrastructure for trucks, rail tank cars, and smaller ships.

The 8-million tonne/year Brunsbüttel terminal will include two 165,000-cu m storage tanks.

German LNG is finalizing binding capacity bookings with potential customers.

The planning approval procedure will be run by Schleswig-Holstein’s state planning authority and includes a public consultation and an environmental impact assessment. After the planning approval procedure is complete, emissions control permitting will begin.

Uniper SE earlier this year repurposed its planned LNG terminal at Wilhelmshaven, Germany, to hydrogen (OGJ Online, Apr. 19, 2021).

German LNG Terminal GmbH is a joint venture between Dutch companies Gasunie LNG Holding BV and Vopak LNG Holding BV as well as Oiltanking GmbH, a subsidiary of Marquard & Bahls AG, based in Hamburg.