Africa (Sub-Sahara) ExxonMobil will drill its first exploratory well offshore Liberia this month, the company announced on 18 October. A deepwater well is planned on the Liberia-13 Block, which is about 50 miles off the coast of the West African country. Solo Oil plans to spud the Ntorya-2 appraisal well in Tanzania next month. The drilling pad is a mile southwest of the 2012 Ntorya-1 discovery well, which was tested at rates of 20.1 MMcf/D of gas and 139 B/D of condensate. An independent report estimated the discovery to hold 153 Bcf of gas in place, of which 70 Bcf is considered a gross best-estimate contingent resource. A gross best estimate of more than 1 Tcf of gas in place has been made for the Ntorya prospect as a whole, in which the company has a 25% interest. Asia Pacific BP has decided to abandon drilling plans in the Great Australian Bight offshore southern Australia, an area in which prospective drilling has long been contested by environmentalists.
Crude is flowing from the ultradeep Libra field in the Santos Basin presalt to the 50,000-B/D Pioneiro de Libra floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) vessel, 180 km off Rio de Janeiro, operator Petrobras reported. Launch of the early production system will enable the partnership to collect technical data, evaluate reservoir behavior, and expand knowledge of the deposit ahead of future phases of development. The extended well test (EWT) is expected to last 1 year before Pioneiro de Libra is relocated to test other Libra wells—12 have been drilled overall on the block. The FPSO, which also has a capacity of 4 million m3 of associated gas, will reinject all produced gas. An SPE technical paper presented at OTC Brasil in October by L. Costa et al. of Halliburton noted a presalt EWT offshore Brazil that utilized a triple-zone intelligent completion to find how each interval would behave during production or injection (OTC 28103).
At a time of massive delays in offshore exploration and production, here are four examples of what companies are doing to get to breakeven.
After oil prices plunged in 2014, the Libra discovery, which could be the largest in Brazil’s prolific pre-salt offshore play, looked like an iffy proposition. “We worried at that time: Do we have a future for a deepwater project?” said He Baosheng, deputy general manager for subsea wells and facilities for the Libra project, during a panel discussion at the 2017 Offshore Technology Conference (OTC).
Petrobras’ chief executive officer (CEO) back then, Oswaldo Pedrosa, said the break-even price was greater than USD 55/bbl, but added that he expected oil prices would rise, making Libra profitable by 2019, when commercial production was expected to begin.
Since then the thinking has flipped. With the price of oil stuck around USD 50/bbl, now the goal for Petrobras and its four partners on Libra is to lower the break-even price to USD 35/bbl, said Fernando Borges, executive manager for the Libra project, adding “it is very important to have a low breakeven.”
“The goal is the ability to live with prices that are there now, and be happier if the price rises,” said He, who works for China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC).
They made those comments at a panel session where Petrobras and its partners rapidly ran through the many things they are working on to reach that break-even target. So far they are about three-quarters of the way to that goal, if their projected savings are realized when built.
At the top of Borges’ short list for reducing the breakeven are reducing capital expenditures and increasing production.
Two Ways To Stretch the Lives of Risers and Mooring Lines
Stephen Rassenfoss, JPT Emerging Technology Senior Editor
The future of many offshore developments hangs on extending the lives of mooring lines and risers.
With oil at USD 50/bbl, only the biggest deepwater discoveries can justify the cost of a new production platform, and even those projects demand an intense focus on shaving every possible cost to allow profitable development.
The few projects going forward now are generally sending the oil and gas to a platform built for an older field.
The Big Payoff for Drilling the Perfect Well
Stephen Rassenfoss, JPT Emerging Technology Senior Editor
Statoil has reported that it is possible, with the right organization and incentives, to drill the “perfect” well.
And when that happened, it was time to redefine perfect.
In this case, perfect was defined as the most ambitious target time for drilling eight wells in Statoil’s Johan Sverdrup field.
While that discovery was one of the largest ever in the Norwegian North Sea, with oil prices around USD 50/bbl the Norwegian national oil company still needed to significantly reduce the cost of drilling to profitably develop the field.
Want To Make Deepwater More Profitable? Shell Says Listen to the Facility Staff
Trent Jacobs, JPT Digital Editor
Over the course of this downturn, Shell devised a new playbook that has made one of its oldest deepwater facilities a profit leader. Spanning a period from 2014–2016, when crude prices would drop from highs around USD 100/bbl to below USD 30/bbl, the Shell-operated Ursa tension-leg platform managed a 27% increase in oil production while operating costs fell by 40%.
The financial feat answered a “cost emergency” brought on by the downturn while also boosting Shell’s view of the asset as a good performer to best-in-class. The company has since adopted the strategy as its operational model for several other floating platforms.
Though Shell is known in the deepwater arena for being a first mover of emerging technologies, there are none to speak of with respect to this project. Instead, the general strategy was to circumvent the factors that lead to people resisting change, even when change is most needed.
It's Hard To Make Money in Deepwater, Even With Billions of Barrels To Produce The Libra Pioneer FPSO is expected to begin producing oil and injecting water and gas into the Libra field later this year. The long-term production test will guide future development. After oil prices plunged in 2014, the Libra discovery, which could be the largest in Brazil’s prolific pre-salt offshore play, looked like an iffy proposition. Petrobras’ chief executive officer (CEO) back then, Oswaldo Pedrosa, said the break-even price was greater than USD 55/bbl, but added that he expected oil prices would rise, making Libra profitable by 2019, when commercial production was expected to begin. Since then the thinking has flipped.