Drilling operations begin at southern Chad oil field development

Drilling operations for the first test wells in Doba oil field in southern Chad are due to start tomorrow, Dec. 11, as part of a $3.5 billion project to produce the country's first oil.

By the OGJ Online Staff

LONDON, Dec. 10 -- Drilling operations for the first test wells in Doba oil field in southern Chad are due to start Dec. 11 as part of a $3.5 billion project to produce the country's first oil.

The project has been backed by the World Bank with a $200 million initial loan and is planned to have a 25-year life, with 300 producing wells producing a peak of 250,000 b/d in the middle of the decade. First oil is due in 2003 and output will be exported via a 24-in. pipeline 650 miles to the Cameroon coast, where export facilities are under construction.

ExxonMobil Corp. is operator of the project through its Esso Chad subsidiary with 40%, Petronas Carigali Sdn. Bhd. of Malaysia has 35%, and ChevronTexaco Corp. 25%.

In a statement issued from the country's capital, N'Djamena, Jean Pierre Petit, who heads the Esso Chad team operating the project, said that drilling will start on Dec. 11, ending rumors that environmental groups had raised issues which were delaying progress.

The Chad government national coordinator for the Doba scheme, Nassour Waïddo, said that everything will be in place so that the first oil can flow in 2003. He said the government has insisted on adequate restrictions on how revenues can be spent as well as measures to protect the environment and people living near the pipeline. Pipeline work started last year and is on schedule.

The World Bank program for the Chad project has four components. The first finances construction of field and export systems including drilling of production and water injection wells, a central treatment facility, an electric power generation plant, an airfield and office buildings, and a pipeline and pump station.

The second component designs and implements a petroleum revenue management program. The third component supports private investment and commercial financing. The fourth implements an environmental management plan.

There are three components for the Cameroon pipeline project segment. The first includes construction of a pipeline, pumping stations, and a floating storage and offloading vessel as well as infrastructure upgrades. The second component encourages private investment and commercial financing. The third component implements an environmental management plan.

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