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Circle Oil Farms In to Vegas’ Lease

EGYPT

Circle Oil Egypt Ltd (COEL) has signed a farm-in agreement covering the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons with Vegas Oil and Gas SA for the NW Gemsa Block in Egypt. Circle Oil will hold a 40% interest, with operator Vegas having a 50% interest and Premier Oil retaining 10%. The 400 sq km NW Gemsa concession, lies about 300 km southeast of Cairo in a partially unexplored part of the Gulf of Suez Basin. It includes the April 2005 discovery Al Amir-1, which flowed 787 BOPD on test. The concession agreement has recently entered its second phase of three years and is valid for a further two and a half years. It has the right of conversion to a production license of 20 years, plus extensions, in the event of commercial discoveries. As part of the agreement, subject to ratification by Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) and the Minister of Petroleum, Circle will contribute towards the cost of the Amir SE-1 exploration well which will target the Nubia Sandstone at a depth of 12,870 feet. The Nubia Sandstone is a well known producer within the Gulf of Suez Basin. The drilling rig contract is due to be concluded shortly and the well was scheduled to commence drilling in early February 2008. The structure is a partial dip and fault closure and has an operator estimated potential of 1 00MMBO in situ based on the present outlined closure area.


SUDAN Chinese Companies Swap Interests

Chinese companies in Sudan are buying oilfield assets from each other. Sinopec is looking to pick up CNPC’s 100% interest in Block 6 in the Muglad Basin, a deal not involving any financial transaction. Sinopec already held these rights in 2000 through its combination with erstwhile holder Zhonguyan but this was handed to CNPC as Sinopec went public.  Block 6 currently produces 60,000 BOPD.


China Drills Ahead In Cued Mya

EGYPT

CNPC IS APPRAISING DISCOVERIES IN Egypt’s Oued Mya Basin. The onshore-focused Chinese state hydrocarbon company was drilling Bou Khezana4 (BKZ) in El M’Zaid block 438b, Oued Mya basin, in early March 2008. The targets are Silurian and Devonian. The well was drilling ahead at 2,479m as of March 5, 2008.


Blood Money Fuels The African Economy

By Toyin Akinosho

THE VERYTOP OF THE LISTING ON THE Cairo and Alexandria Stock Exchange (CASE) is Orascom Telecommunications, 57% of which is owned by the Sawiris family. Next on the list is Orascom Construction, almost 70% owned by the same family. The third largest company on CASE, Africa’s second largest stock exchange, is another family owned company, which doesn’t have anything to do with the Sawiris. Abdel-Azziz Ezz is the chairman and managing director of both Alexandria National Iron and Steel(ANSDK), which is Number 3 on the CASE top 10 and Ezz Steel Rebars (Ezz Steel), which shows up on Number 9.

To understand how significant these four, family owned companies mean to the size of the Egyptian economy, we must understand this:

Egypt’s top 10 companies on the CASE make half the money on the exchange and if an exchange is a barometer of the health of an economy, then it means they simply dominate the economy. Whereas combined net profits for bt100-Egypt’s largest and most actively traded 100 stocks-grew to $2,457 billion in 2004 from $1,487 billion, the gulf between the top 10 and the rest of the list continued to widen.  With combined revenues of $8,980 billion in 2004, the top 10 accounted for 57.91% of bt100’s revenues, and their $1,381 billion in net profit was 56.19% of bt 100 profits.


ATLAS Finishes Shoot In Block J

EQ. GUINEA

A 90 DAY, 700 SQ KM 3D SEISMIC SHOOT ended in February 2008 in the 1,305-sq Bock J offshore Equatorial Guinea. The crew was BJP Pioneer SV.


Arabian Oil Is Selling In North October

EGYPT

Arabian Oil Company is seeking buyers for up to 50% of its 100% interest in the 185-sq km NW October block, in the north of Gulf of Suez. The block is situated in water depth of 45-65metres. The company wants to do the selling before embarking on development of the NWO 1 discovery (5.200 BOPD of28-32 API oil from the Nukhul and Thebes formations). Offers are invited until l May 2008. Effective date will be 1 January 2008. Contact spencerwinter@stellarlimited.com.


Aje 4 Spuds With Considerable Expectations

NIGERIA

THE DRILLSHIP DEEPWATER Pathfinder moved from the deepwater Agbami 3 ST2 to spud Aje 4 in the first week of February. Aje 4 is located in less than 200metres of water. By February 18, two casings had been run in the well and the operation was in the 12-1/4’ hole. The technical operator, Chevron (18%), doesn’t plan to test this well in the event of a successful outcome. The idea is to run production casing and suspend the well as a potential producer. Aje 4 is expected to confirm that the field indeed has 1 .2Trillion cubic feet of gas as well as up to 200million barrels of oil. The first two wells encountered two main hydrocarbon rich reservoirs, each of Turonian and the Cenomanian age, but Aje 3 encountered the Cenomanian reservoir at a level significantly down-dip from the discovery well, as well as below the existing oil-water contact defined in Aje-2. The well did indeed “see” the Turonian level updip of the two earlier wells and located above the gas water contact encountered in both Aje-1 and Aje-2 but the presence of gas in the reservoir could not be tested due to poor reservoir properties at the Aje-3 location. Participants in the 1,840 sq km OML 113, which contains the Aje field, include Yinka Folawiyo (holding operator 60%),Vitol Exploration (12.83%), Energy Equity Resources (6.50%) as well as Providence Resources (2.67%).


AFREN Buys Devon’s Cote D’Ivoire Interests

COTE D’IVOIRE  Afren has reached an agreement with Devon to acquire the latter’s interests in Côte d’Ivoire for $205MM, of which a 47.96% operating interest in Ci-11, a direct 65% and operatorship with rights over an additional 15% interest in Ci-0l, and 100% in the onshore Lion Gas Plant. The deal, which marks the AIM Listed Afren’s entry into Cote D’Ivoire, is to be made effective 30 June 30, 2007. Combined 2P reserves for Ci-0l and Ci- 11 are about 28MMBOE as of 30 June 2007, providing immediate access to 3,000 BOEPD net. The company is targeting over 6,000 BOEPD from 2010. The acquisition is subject to customary regulatory and governmental approvals.


Shell Proves Nigeria Right

MARTYN MNDERHOUD LOOKED up briefly from the presentation and faced the audience. “Somebody said that Zabazaba was a discovery”, he said. “Well, I don’t know”.

Then almost immediately Shell’s Vice President for Exploration and Production in Africa put up a series of slides, indicating that Shell considers Nigeria the best place to look in its deepwater portfolio worldwide. The scene was the banquet hail of the Sheraton Hotel in Abuja, at the conference of the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists(NAPE) in November 2006.

In the last three years (2003-2006) almost everyone has lamented the lack of success in ultradeepwater Nigeria. But not Shell. The Anglo Dutch giant has always had a successful story. Shell reported in 2006 that Bobo -l in OPL 322, encountered some 120m of hydrocarbon. Indeed, in his paper, (See illustration) Minderhoud declared Bobo-1 as a “fat cat” discovery. Bobo is located squarely in the ultradeepwater, outboard of 1 ,700m water depth, and its location is not in the Outer Toe Thrust(OTT)Belt area, which has proven quite problematic in terms of structuration for holding hydrocarbon. But if the general rule has been that the farther and deeper from 1 ,600metre water depth you get, the less likely you are to find a significant hydrocarbon tank, then Shell has proven an exception to the rule. Agip’s Dou-1 and Emein-1, OPL 244, both drilled in 2,000m of water encountered marginal gas. Chevron’s Iroko- l(in 2000m WD) in OPL 250, was as much a disappointing story as Phillips Onigun- l (2,200mWD) in OPL 318, Petrobras’s Erinmi-1(2,300mWD) in OPL 324 and Ocean Energy’s Pina-l (in 2,500mWD), which encountered some gas and Tan-1 (2,000m WD) in OPL 256.

While Minderhoud abstained from outright declaration of Zabazaba-l ( 2,000metre water depth) as a discovery, the company has gone ahead to drill Zabazaba 2, an indication that the first well, at least, opened doors to possibilities. Outside the rank wildcat area, Shell is proving up more oil in fields already established.

The January 2007 edition of AAPG Explorer, the influential in house magazine of the largest grouping of earth scientists on the globe, cites Bonga North 2X, as one of the four major discoveries in subsaharan Africa in 2006. Bonga North 2 X is the dual leg appraisal to the Bonga North 11X discovery in OML 118, where the Bonga main, (the main field of the Bonga structure) is producing over 200,000BOPD, or at least 8% of Nigeria’s entire production, today.

AAPG Explorer says that “Shell is trying to prove up enough reserves (500MMBO+) that could lead to Bonga North being developed separately from Bonga”. But Shell sources say that the Bonga North field will be tied to the FPSO of the Bonga main.

Meanwhile, plans have progressed with Chevron to develop Bonga South-West/ Aparo (Chevron’s Aparo wells probed the same sands as Bonga South West, hence a unitization proposal). This means two projects of some 1 50,000B0PD each, at peak, apart from Bonga. Translation; on the Bonga structure and its satellites alone, the company is going to be  exploiting, by 2015, three fields delivering a total of at least 500,000BOPD.

One key beneficiary of this is ExxonMobil, who holds 43.7% interest in OML 118. The company will be rewarded whenever these fields come on stream; and it doesn’t even have to lift a finger. Shell itself has 43.7% in ExxonMobil’s OML 133, which hosts the Erha and Erha North fields, producing 230,000BOPD today. The two largest oil producers in Nigeria thus currently deliver close to 500,000BOPD, roughly one fifth of the country’s total production, from deepwater. ExxonMobil’s rich pickings apart, Nigeria has made a rebound in exploration effort in deepwater, an indication that the overall pessimism that hung over the terrain two years ago, is wearing off. Eleven wildcats were spudded in deepwater Nigeria in 2006, a figure which is higher than all the exploratory wells drilled in both shallow water and land last year.

Chevron’s Obo 1 is one play that may put to lie the perception that the outer toe thrust belt is a no no. AAPG Explorer reports that the first deepwater well in the Joint Development Zione (JDZ0 between Nigeria and Sao Tome et Principe, “encountered a cumulative 45 metres of net hydrocarbon pay in multiple reservoirs”.

The magazine said: “Reserves are runmoured to be not as large as expected, leading to speculation that the well was not sited at the most prospective location but rather on the edges of a major structure to check its extent”. As new discoveries show up with less and less reserves than the first set of discoveries, in just 10 years of exploration, there is a spirited debate on the knowledge base regarding the thrust belt features in the Niger Delta deepwater.


Mauritania breaks A Dry White Season

The discovery of the Chinguetti field, nestled in 800 metres of water off Mauritania, called attention to the country as a prime destination for oil and gas explorationists. But the initial skepticism of the size of the Mauritanian play, among earth scientists, especially in major companies, seems to be returning, with the spate of dry holes witnessed in the country in the last one year.

So when the UK operator Dana Petroleum abandoned wildcat Aigrette 1 as an oil discovery in the offshore Block 7 last December, it was a welcome breath of fresh air in an environment that had started becoming suffocated with news of disappointing encounters.

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