The new build swamp barge Majestic drilled through over 150 feet of suspected hydrocarbon column in Ango-1, a new field wildcat located 30km North east of Otuo South field, in Conoil operated Oil Mining Lease(OML) 59, in southwestern Niger Delta basin. The High Temperature, High Pressure(HTHP) rig got stuck and pulled out of hole from about 16,000feet(4,876metres) deep, in true vertical depth, where the column was encountered. It is currently on sidetrack. “If the column turns out to be oil, it will mean an entirely new play in that part of the Niger Delta basin”, says an official of the Department of Petroleum Resources(DPR), the Nigerian state regulatory agency.
Drilling staff at the NNPC, the state hydrocarbon company, say the sidetrack hole is being drilled very close to the original hole to ensure the rig chugs through the same reservoir sequence as in the original. Ango-1 is located in a part of the basin populated by a litter of small plays and a couple of large but ageing fields. Ango-1’s primary objectives start at around 15,000feet(4,572 metres), which is quite deep by Niger Delta onshore standards. The planned Total Depth of 19, 800 feet(6,035Metres), if reached, will be one of four deepest wells drilled in the continental shelf of the Niger Delta in 54years.
Conoil, a Nigerian independent operator, is betting big on this new play to open up a whole new development opportunity. But the Nigerian state itself needs to pay attention: the country’s reserves have fallen to 36.5Billion barrels in the last one year, a situation the DPR considers remarkably unusual. There has been a general lack of investment in exploration plays in a decade. A big discovery in reservoir depths deeper than tested in most parts of the basin, may just be a gamechanger.