BP PLC to continue Angola drilling program despite dry hole

BP PLC plans to continue its exploration program on ultradeepwater Block 31 off Angola, despite reports that its first well hit a reservoir of water.

By the OGJ Online Staff

LONDON, Dec. 3 --BP PLC has confirmed it will continue its exploration program on ultradeepwater Block 31 offshore Angola, despite reports that its first well hit a reservoir of water.

BP said that for legal and contractual reasons it could not comment on drilling results. The hole was drilled in 1,850 m of water to test a canyon structure.

However, BP said exploration would shift to another location on the same block and it will be "gaining valuable information from the well it has completed."

Block 31 was one of three licenses awarded in 1999 for $1 billion in fees to the government. BP, as operator, paid $111 million for its 26.7% share of Block 31. Partners are ExxonMobil Corp. 25%, Sonangol 20%, Statoil ASA 13.3%, and TotalFinaElf Group 5%.

Observers said BP's decision to prepare for a new exploration well in the same area underlines its confidence in seismic data. Past success rates in exploration off Angola have been higher than 50%.

Angola has 12 billion bbl of offshore reserves and produces 750,000 b/d. Production is due to rise to 860,000 b/d in 2002 when the Girassol project on Block 17 comes into production. BP has a 16.67% interest in Block 17.

It also has a 50% interest in and is operator on Block 18, where the Greater Plutonio area is due to produce 250,000 b/d in 2005. Royal Dutch/Shell Group holds the other 50%.

BP also has a 27.5% interest in Block 5 operated by Sonangol, which plans to drill the first well, N'Sanda, in the southwest corner in early 2002. And BP has 26.67% of Block 15, where ExxonMobil is due to begin producing a reservoir of 3 billion bbl in early 2004.

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