All posts tagged oil-blocks


Deadline for PIB is Challenged; First Drafts Unlikely in Cabinet Before Mid-June

There’s a chance that the first drafts of Nigeria’s Petroleum legislation will reach the Federal Executive Council (the country’s cabinet) by mid- June 2020, not before.

A three-month delay in producing the documents has pushed the envelope in getting this most crucial assignment delivered by the end of the year.

After they are approved by the 42-man FEC, the drafts will proceed to the National Assembly for deliberations that will shape them into acts of parliament, for the President to sign. It is unlikely that the bills: the Petroleum Industry Administratve Bill (PIAB), and the Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill (PIFB), will get a first hearing at the bicameral house until July.

The original plan was that the Executive arm of government, coordinated by the state hydrocarbon company NNPC, would have pieced together the draft documents as early as late February or early March. But as the work dragged on, “it got truncated by the COVID -19 lockdown”, in the words of people who are familiar with the process, and only got significant traction in the last three weeks.

Considering the COVID-19 challenge, it’s not clear whether there will be public hearings at the Senate and the House of Representatives, as they work on the bills from late in the second half of the year.

But even if there are not, there has to be some time for inviting and accepting memoranda.

A comprehensive petroleum reform legislation, widely known as Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), has been showing up on the legislative agenda of the Nigerian National Assembly since 2008. In terms of construction, the document from which the first iteration of the legislation was generated was produced in 2000, in the form of a report and policy document issued by the Oil and Gas Implementation Committee (“OGIC”) established by (then) President Olusegun Obasanjo. That report, approved by the Yaradua government, resulted in the Petroleum Industry Bill 2008 being forwarded to the 6th National Assembly.

“The PIB has been a long time coming and we think that when it comes out later this year, it will come out with a lot of sweetness”, Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, said on the sidelines of the OPEC meeting on March 5, 2020. “We are very mindful of the fact that it’s a very competitive environment right now and we are taking that on board in the new law”.

But does this three-month (probably more) delay mean that the reform law is unlikely to become reality in 2020?

Some of the people close to the process are optimistic.

“With the Presidency now apparently convinced”, says a consultant who has been part of the executive-legislature interface in the last 12 years, “these bills can be passed in three months. Remember the DOIB (Deep Offshore and Inland Basins) review took only 26 days from start to finish”.

There is a lot riding on this law. Nigeria is expecting a rise in investor interest in the energy market once the law goes through. Sylva said: “We are expecting that everybody will be interested because Nigeria is not just a brownfield, it has a lot of greenfield opportunities,” he said. “We believe the investment world will be quite pleased when we do come out with the bid round.” The PIB will provide a more stable investment framework in the sector. “Things have remained quite stagnant and that’s why we believe that with this bill it will bring a lot of certainty to the investment framework and people will get interested and come,” he said.


Nigerian Government Takes Ownership of Ororo-1 Fire

The state is paying for extinguishing the flames and has ordered the drill a relief well

Nigeria’s Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) says it had novated the contract to the Drilling Contractor working on the re-entry of Ororo-1, a full month before the fire erupted on the rig on May 15, 2020.

The novation was made at the time of revocation order on the award of the Ororo marginal field on April 6, 2020.

Effectively, the Nigerian government is paying the contractor, bearing the cost of extinguishing the rampaging fire and in this particular instance, it has ordered that if need be, a relief well should  be drilled.

A relief well, targeted at above or at the producing problem formation, is one of the most efficient ways to control a blowout.

Sarki Auwalu, director of DPR, specifically instructed that the contractor engage Boots & Coots Services, a Halliburton owned firm of well control specialists, to put out the fire.

Grace-1 HWU, a Hydraulic workover rig reportedly owned by Joeny Holdings, was contracted for the job of re-entry and completion by the Nigerian minnow Guarantee Petroleum.

The operations on Ororo-1, a highly pressured well located in Oil Mining Lease (OML) 95, in shallow water offshore Western Niger Delta, experienced a sudden rush of hydrocarbon fluids speeding up from over pressured reservoirs at depths deeper than 8,500 feet to the surface and forcing a blowout. The Blow Out Preventer (BOP) for the main well bore and the BOP for the annulus (the space between the pipe and the skin of the well), both failed. The reservoir pressure was 8,000 pounds per square inch (psi) and above, surface pressure was about 4,600psi as of the time of incident, according to field data.

The regulatory agency dismisses the claims of Guarantee Petroleum, that it engaged with DPR personnel before it took a Hydraulic workover rig to the conduct a re-entry and completion of a highly pressured well.

“If the rig was there, our people must know. You cannot mobilize any rig without informing the DPR Zonal office. You cannot even spud the well or start to drill without informing the DPR Zonal Office. You cannot have a workover without having your oil spill contingency activation documents with DPR so that in case anything happens, we will activate it. They all don’t have that”.

Novation is the process by which the original contract is extinguished and replaced with another, under which a third party takes up rights and obligations duplicating those of one of the parties to the original contract.

The DPR says it did not see the need to consult with either Guarantee Petroleum or its partner Owena Oil & Gas over the novation, as technically, they were no longer rightsholders to the well.

The Ororo field was awarded to both parties as a marginal field in 2003. The government revoked the award because the grantees had “failed to develop the field and bring it to full production before the expiration of the granted extension period which elapsed on April 30, 2019”, says the revocation letter.

Guarantee Petroleum has claimed that the rig was moved to site in October 2019 with the permission of the DPR  and that the revocation order, made with immediate effect right in the middle of a well re-entry process, encouraged a sense of pandemonium which resulted in the fire incident on the Grace-1 HWU.

“Service providers became jittery when the announcement came”, the company lamented to Africa Oil+Gas Report.

The DPR disagrees. It contends that when it was conducting due diligence to determine the revocation, in March, the rig had not been moved to site. “By the time we implemented the revocation, the rig was onsite. And when that rig was onsite, we realized that technically that rig, and just to tell you that if they engaged us, we have to access the rig, the BOP and all that but they didn’t do that”, the agency says. “We know that that rig could not do what they wanted to do because of the history of that place”.

The DPR says that extant technical information on the well indicates that the hydraulic workover rig could not perform the service it was called up to do. “That was why they refused to contact DPR because they know that we would say no to that. We cannot allow that and so they refused to inform us. They are ware that revocation or no revocation, if they go with that rig, there is a potential that the well would collapse. There is that potential”.

In a letter it purportedly wrote to DPR on May 15, Guarantee Petroleum sought the regulator’s approval to use dispersants “and other needed materials “around the well and environs “to avoid loss of lives and further pollution of the communities affected”. Such a letter would suggest that Guarantee Petroleum was sure it was still in charge of operations.

The Regulatory agency denies receiving any such correspondence. “We have only two ways of receiving correspondences in DPR. It is either you bring it physically which we would stamp and give you a received copy, or you send it through DRP@DPR.GOV.NG which also carries date and time. And as soon as you email it through dpr@drp.gov.ng do you know what will happen? it will enter into our ERP and it will capture the subject and we will see it immediately”.

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‘Government Licence Revocation to Blame for Rig Fire Incident’, Company Laments

By Toyin Akinosho, Publisher

The Nigerian minnow, Guarantee Petroleum, has argued that the revocation order, sent to the company in early April 2020, right in the middle of a well re-entry process, encouraged a sense of pandemonium which resulted in the fire incident on the Grace-1 HWU, the hydraulic workover rig that was performing re-entry operations on Ororo field, in shallow water Oil Mining Lease (OML) 95.

“Service providers became jittery when the announcement came”, Tunde Giwa, the company’s Managing Director, lamented to Africa Oil+Gas Report.

“We had almost finalised operations”, Giwa explained, “We were at the bottom of the well (circa 10,000feet) we had opened four hydrocarbon zones, and taken all the plugs out. Baker Hughes was on site to put the tubings, (and complete the well). That was when the problem started. The service providers who could have intervened in the various well pressure amelioration work, were refusing to do their job”.

Nigerian regulatory authorities were well aware that there was an operation going on, there were safety issues involved and yet they revoked the licence of the operator with immediate effect.

The well re-entry commenced in October 2019 and officials of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) were aware of the work, which they sanctioned, according to documents sighted by Africa Oil+Gas Report. Well control challenges started in April and when the revocation order came, “the service companies started reducing their work scope”. Giwa claims that as of Sunday, May 17, 2020, the DPR had not responded to letters and email messages on the fire incident.

Asked why the company had deployed a hydraulic workover rig to re-enter and work over a well that had prior record of overpesssured zones, Giwa said that the issue was not the rig competency. “The Blowout Preventer (BOP) stack and drilling mud pumps (designed to circulate drilling fluid under high pressure) were the same as a regular rig”.

Guarantee Petroleum, with its partner, Owena Oil, won the Ororo field in the 2002/2003 Marginal field round.

DPR is right to be concerned that the two companies had sat” on the licence for 17 years without applying a sense of urgency to bring the asset to production.

It is in the DPR’s remit to revoke the licence.

But it is wrong for officials, themselves geoscientists and engineers, to approve technical operations of this nature and financial magnitude (in excess of $20Million), with a high safety quotient, and revoke the licence right in the middle of the operations.


TOTAL Won’t Go into Ghana’s Upstream Yet

French major TOTAL has taken the decision not to proceed with consummating the purchase of Occidental Petroleum’s stakes in Ghana.

Occidental had acquired Anadarko in early 2019 and subsequently entered into a Purchase and Sale Agreement (PSA) in order for TOTAL to acquire Anadarko’s assets in Africa. Under this agreement, TOTAL and Occidental have since completed the sale and purchase of the Mozambique and South Africa assets.

The PSA provided that the sale of the Ghana assets was conditional upon the completion of the Algeria assets’ sale. Occidental has informed TOTAL that, as part of an understanding with the Algerian authorities on the transfer of Anadarko’s interests to Occidental, Occidental would not be in a position to sell its interests in Algeria.

“Given the extraordinary market environment and the lack of visibility that the Group faces, and in light of the non-operated nature of the interests of Anadarko in Ghana”, says a company press release, “TOTAL has decided not to pursue the completion of the purchase of the Ghana assets and, as a consequence, to preserve the Group’s financial flexibility”.

 


Cameroon Calls for Expression of Interest for Limbe Gas to Power Plant

Cameroon has launched a call for expression of interest to pre-qualify partners for the study, construction, and operation (Build, Operate and Transfer mode) of a gas-fired thermal power plant in Limbé, in the country’s Southwest.

Bidders have until July 10, 2020, to submit bids for this project, which must be completed by 2024, according to the government’s timeline.

With a production capacity of 350 MW, the Limbe gas-fired power station is expected to improve the supply of electricity in the Littoral, West, and South-West regions, a statement by the Ministry of Energy noted.

The Limbé power project is expected to include the conversion to natural gas of an existing 85 MW heavy- fuel-oil-fired reciprocating power plant and the addition, at the same site, of 265 MW of new-plant capacity. The new construction will be a combined-cycle, gas-fired plant.

Over the past 12 years, several actors have been involved in one iteration or the other of this project. With this expression of interest, it does seem as if the Cameroonian government has severed relationship with these players.

 


Will Schlumberger Treat Otakikpo the Way It Treated Madu/Anyala?

Macson Otiti, in Port Harcourt

In November 2018, Schlumberger pulled out of the Madu /Anyala field development project offshore Nigeria.

It was 17 months after the oil service giant had inked a tripartite agreement to be financier and technical service provider on the project, with the Nigerian independent First E&P, operator of the asset, and NNPC, the state-owned partner.

Schlumberger’s decision to pull its $724Million funding for this development in Oil Mining Leases (OMLs) 83 and 85, has been kept out of public scrutiny by all the parties involved.

But as the company moves on to another Nigerian field development project, questions are being raised: Will Schlumberger prevail through the life of the Otakikpo field expansion project? Or will it, again, pull out?

These questions are grounded in some context.

Five months before Schlumberger walked out of the Madu/Anyala, it had pulled out of another planned investment in West Africa: the Fortuna NLNG project off Equatorial Guinea.

Schlumberger was involved in the Fortuna LNG project through OneLNGSM, a Schlumberger/Golar LNG joint venture partnership with which operator Ophir Energy had signed a binding Shareholders’ Agreement, to develop the 2.2Million Tonnes Per Annum Fortuna NLNG.

OneLNGSM owned 66.2% of the $2Billion project of which $1.2Billion was to be debt financed. Schlumberger did say it pulled out of OneLNGSM because the Fortuna project was unable to finalise attractive debt financing in time.

Less than a month after the mighty Schlumberger withdrew from OneLNGGSM, Gabriel Lima Obiang, the Equatoguinean Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons (MMH), noted that the government could bring in some other investors to the project to replace Ophir. He referenced the expiration of the Block R licence at the end of 2018.

The minister did not renew the licence, effectively tossing out Ophir Energy’s five-year appraisal drilling, FEED studies, and three-year widely publicised effort to raise finance. Faced with the loss of its biggest development on the continent, Ophir has since exited its entire portfolio in Africa.

First E&P has not suffered the same fate as Ophir. It has struggled too, though, and scaled down the number of wells needed to drill to get to first oil by more than half. In its case the state has been more benevolent:  the Madu/Anyala development has benefitted from ready cash call payments by NNPC.

The Otakikpo field is operated by Green Energy International Limited (GEIL), which has the London listed LEKOIL as financial and technical partner. Schlumberger, officially never responded to enquiries from Africa Oil+Gas Report. But highly regarded sources who are familiar with the company’s working, say that the Schlumberger’s financial exposure in the two projects: Otakikpo and Madu/Anyala are dissimilar. And the terms are different.

Whereas the Madu/ Anyala project was to be executed under Schlumberger Production Management SPM, in which the company is an investor and recoups its money on production,  the deal on Otakikpo is being consummated under the company’s Asset Performance Solutions (APS) scheme, in which case Schlumberger is not putting a single dollar on the table, but using its brand to help the partners pull in financiers. “Schlumberger’s involvement in Otakikpo is a support by way of investing sweat equity and integrity”, our sources say.

Still, there’s something unnerving about a partner who has dropped out of two hydrocarbon field developments inside of the last two years.

GEIL signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a consortium of international financiers for a package of more than $350Million, to take forward the second phase development of Otakikpo. The consortium includes an international bank based in London, a crude oil off-taker and an EPC contractor. The Field Development Plan FDP of the project involves the drilling of seven additional wells (there are two producing wells already) and expansion of the crude processing infrastructure. The plan also includes the construction of a 1.3Million barrels onshore terminal and a 17 kilometre export pipeline to connect the terminal to an offshore loading system. GEIL director of corporate affairs Olusegun Ilori said that the company intends to increase production from 6,000 barrels per day (BOPD) to 20,000BOPD.

Anthony Adegbulugbe, chairman GEIL has been quite enthusiastic about the work programme and vocal in the media about the financial and technical partnerships he has attracted on board of this expansion project. With COVID-19, there may be delays, the cost of debt financing may go up and the project may have to be phased, but Otakikpo expansion looks likely to go on. The one other worry is, as Schlumberger is the main subsurface service vendor, and its services come at premium cost, continual benchmarking with the rest of the industry is key. After all, this is the era of bare bone cost of production.

 

 


Nigerian Companies Are the Biggest Defaulters on Ghana’s Concession Rentals

Sahara Energy Fields, Brittania U and Erin Energy, all founded by Nigerian businessmen, are among the the eight Exploration and Production Companies, that were in default of one payment or another to Ghanaian Tax authorities as of February 2019, the latest date for which data are available.

With $587671.23 behind in both arrears and 2019 outstanding, Swiss African Oil owed the most, according to  Public Interest Accountability Committee, Ghana’s equivalent of NEITI. SAO was followed by Brittania U and Sahara Energy Fields, both Nigerian owned companies, indebted to the tune of $456, 879.26 and $409,315.07 respectively. The fourth most indebted to the Ghanaian state was Gosco/Heritage, with $334,850.00 in both arrears and 2019 outstanding.

Erin Energy, also a Nigerian founded company, owed $151,200. The least indebted companies were Medea $78,050; UB Resources, $37,050 and Springfield, $33,650.


LEKOIL Gets A Breather on $7.6Million It Has to Pay to Optimum

By Foluso Ogunsan

AIM Listed LEKOIL says it reached an agreement with Optimum Petroleum Development Company, the Operator of the Oil Prospecting Lease (OPL 310), on deferring the final tranche of payment of $7.6Million due on or before 2 May 2020.

The companies had earlier jointly decided that final payment of $9.6Million, in aggregate, would be made to Optimum to cover sunk costs and consent fees for LEKOIL’s 17% farmed in interest. This final payment was to be made in two tranches with the first payment of $2Million completed as announced on 3 April 2020.

Now Optimum and LEKOIL have agreed on a deferred payment schedule as follows: the sum of $1.0Million to be paid on or before 15 July 2020; the sum of $2Million to be paid on or before 2 September 2020, and the sum of $4.6Million to be paid on or before 2 November 2020.

OPL 310, located in 100 to 200metre water depth in the Benin Basin, offshore Lagos, Nigeria, contains the Ogo field.

The field was discovered in 2013, with LEKOIL and (then partner) Afren, now defunct, describing it a significant discovery and claiming estimates of P50 recoverable resources of 774 Million Barrels of Oil Equivalent (MMBBOE) a figure which far exceeds the expected pre-drill estimate of 202MMBOE.

 

 

 


Geophysical Contractors Seek Fiscal Relief from African Governments

The International Association of Geophysical Contractors IAGC, is asking for financial relief from regulatory authorities and banking institutions in hydrocarbon prospecting and producing countries in Africa.

Such relief is being sought in order to mitigate the negative effects of the global crisis

In collaboration with the Johannesburg based African Energy Chamber, the contractors are making several demands on governments, including waiving taxes on service companies for six months; waivng withholding taxes, especially for non-resident companies, for six months.

“These measures are intended to mitigate the expected loss of jobs and abandonment of erstwhile viable projects in the African oil and gas sector in the face of a global recession”, the IAGC says in a joint statement with the AEC.

The two organisations are urging banks to provide no interest loans and loan guarantees for local service companies with ongoing projects with operating E&P companies. They are asking governments to grant extensions on all exploration projects for 24 months; extend the non-exclusive geophysical data confidentiality periods to a minimum of 15 years where such is not already in place; waive part of the work project commitments for exploration companies.

They are also praying for setting up and implementing government and private sector discussions on revising some of the fiscal terms in the Production Sharing Contracts “that make it difficult for explorers to meet commitments in today’s market environment and aid capital fundraising”, and they want a 50% reduction in fees due to the state like training funds, surface rental, social projects et.

Nikki Martin, President of the IAGC highlighted the importance of the geophysical and exploration (G&E) industries in maintaining a stable energy industry. “National Authorities should be working to maintain expected timelines for licensing rounds, including all review periods and award announcements which contribute to business certainty and a stable pipeline for future oil production. Energy security for the continent will only be ensured with continued exploration,” she said. “The G&E industry provides the key to unlocking energy resources that will allow for rebuilding economies when the COVID-19 virus has run its course, however, in order to rebuild, there must be a viable energy industry when that time comes.”

 


Equatorial Guinea Grants Two Year Extension for All Oil & Gas Licences

One month after it announced the waiving of its fees for oil service companies in the country, Equatorial Guinea has granted E&P companies a two-year extension on their exploration programmes.

The grant, the country says, “will also ensure flexibility on the work programmes of producing companies to ensure growth and stability in the market”.
In late March, the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons MMH said it took the unanimous decision to waive its fees for service companies for a duration of three months, adding that it recognised the fact that the oil sector continues to be the largest private sector employer in the country and “we want to give our local services companies the means to weather the storm and avoid any jobs being lost”. It said it was “the first action to be taken to support oil & gas services companies in the wake of the oil price drop caused by the coronavirus pandemic”.

Oil prices have headed farther south in the four weeks since that first announcement, with the horizon even cloudier. Yesterday’s press release announcing the grant of extension of tenor of acreage licences came less than a week after the Petroleum minister, Gabriel Mbaga Lima Obiang, suggested at a webinar that countries should be granting extensions for E&P licences at this time, as companies would be unable to carry out work programmes with any clarity until 2021.

“The Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons remains concerned about the resounding impact of the drop in oil prices, COVID-19 and its dramatic consequences on our hydrocarbons industry”, says the release.

“At a time of great uncertainty, we have an obligation to make bold, decisive, and pragmatic policy decisions to get the industry moving again,” the statement explains, adding  that the government is fully committed to safeguard local oil & gas industry, its companies and its employees.

“The granting of these extensions has been deemed suitable to create an enabling environment for international and African companies to keep investing in Equatorial Guinea and ensure a quick recovery of our industry.

“The MMH will continue working with oil companies benefitting from such incentives to make sure that the recovery of Equatorial Guinea’s oil sector is made on the back of local content promotion, increased technology transfers, and procurement of additional local goods and services. A particular emphasis will be put on educating, training and promoting local workforce to help further reduce operational costs for international companies while maximising the creation of local value and revenue”.

With these proposals, the Equatoguinean authorities say they guarantee existing investments into Equatorial Guinea, while empowering local companies to assist their foreign partners in safeguarding and increasing their operations in the country.

“Some of these companies operating in Equatorial Guinea notably include ExxonMobil, EGLNG, Marathon Oil Corp, Atlas Petroleum, Kosmos Energy, Noble Energy, Glencore, Royal Gate Energy, Gunvor, Trident Energy, etc.

“Such historic measures are being rolled out as Equatorial Guinea implements a series of landmark projects across its upstream, midstream and downstream industries. The backfill project is already ongoing to pool supply from stranded gas in the Gulf of Guinea and replace declining output from the Alba Field. Meanwhile, the ongoing Year of Investment has generated strong interest from various existing and new players in Equatorial Guinea to build and expand midstream and downstream infrastructure and maximise local processing and transformation of domestic crude oil and natural gas.”

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