Cobalt’s Lontra #1 Result is a Dampener for Angola’s Pre-Salt Campaign - Africa’s premier report on the oil, gas and energy landscape.

Cobalt’s Lontra #1 Result is a Dampener for Angola’s Pre-Salt Campaign

By Toyin Akinosho

Cobalt Energy’s reported “stabilized flow rate of 2,500 barrels per day of condensate and 39 million cubic feet per day of gas” for the Lontra 1 Pre-Salt well, is far from de-risking Angola’s much anticipated Pre-Salt campaign.

The Drill Stem Test result speaks loudly against the operator’s claim that “Lontra is a discovery on a global scale”.  A result coming up with 2,500BCPD and 39MMscf/d, suggest a ‘trickle’, by the standards of Africa’s big frontier discoveries of the last 20 years, whether they are located in post salt Angolan deepwater oil reservoirs or in Mozambican gas plays. “The Lontra #1 exploratory well was drilled to a total depth of 4,195 meters and penetrated approximately 75 meters of net pay in a very high quality reservoir section”, Cobalt said in a December 1, 2013 release.

Angola is the hottest spot for the search for deepwater carbonate reservoirs located below a salt cover. The country’s Kwanza Basin is geologically regarded as a conjugate to Brazil’s Santos Basin, where the eight billion barrel Tupi oilfield, stored in a high-pressured, high temperature environment, was discovered in 2007, beneath a massive two kilometre thick salt sheet.

A host of companies, including Statoil, TOTAL and ENI, have won acreages in the Kwanza Basin, targeting the Pre-Salt and hoping to nail discoveries resembling Tupi. Angola is planning another acreage bid round to offer more Pre-Salt acreages and there are similar campaigns in Gabon and Congo Brazaville, now collectively described by conference organisers as “The Pre-Salt market”. With its aggressive media machine, however, the American independent Cobalt Energy has moved ahead to the front, acting as the poster company for the campaign.

The results have not always been rewarding. Before Lontra 1, Cobalt had announced two lack lustre DST results and a gas find in three pre-salt reservoirs in deepwater Angola and Gabon in the last three months.  There was no report of the DST of the shallower reservoirs for Cameia 2, but the company itself noted that the DST “of the lowest interval drilled in the Cameia #2 well, did not produce measurable hydrocarbons”. Then again, Cobalt announced that the DST operations on Mavinga 1 weren’t encouraging, saying: “efforts to establish a sustained flow rate from a full drill stem test were unsuccessful”.

The Diaman-1B well, in the DiabaLicence in deepwater Gabon, encountered 50metres of gas in pre-salt reservoirs, and not a single drop of oil. Cobalt is a partner in the TOTAL operated asset. The well was hyped as Gabon’s key to the deepwater hydrocarbon league.

Cobalt attempted to play up the gas find in Lontra as something meaningful to Angolan economy. “It is beneficial that Lontra is offshore near Luanda, (the Angolan capital), where we believe there is a potentially large emerging market for gas,” Cobalt Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Bryant said in a statement. Bryant said in the statement. This claim is dodgy. Of the top five hydrocarbon rich countries in Africa, Angola is the least excited about the prospect of domestic gas use. For its LNG facility, which is smaller than each of the Nigerian and the Algerian LNG plants, expansion is not on the cards in the near term.

Cobalt says that appraisal drilling will be required to determine the ultimate size of the Lontra field. The company boasts: “The exceptional reservoir system that we have discovered ranks among the best that we have seen” .

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