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Ophir Energy has secured a rig for a West African drilling campaign to start in February in Gabon. It has agreed heads of terms for a deep-water drillship for six firm wells plus additional contingent slots. The programme will start in early February with the 1bn barrel Padouck Deep pre-salt prospect on Gabon’s Ntsina Block, followed by the Affanga Deep prospect on the Gnondo Block, then the pre-salt Okala prospect on the Mbeli Block.

Gabon
Issue 263 - 12 October 2013

Uganda moves closer to first oil

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The Ugandan government has invited expressions of interest from investors to develop its 30,000 b/d refinery on the shores of Lake Albert. Successful bidders will be announced in April. Mineral resources minister Peter Lokeris told the CWC East Africa Oil and Gas Summit on 8 October the government had allocated a 29km2 area of land for the project, which would be developed as a public-private partnership. In September, the government awarded a production licence to China’s CNOOC for the Kingfisher field. Lokeris said Tullow Oil and Total, the two other stakeholders in the project, would soon be awarded similar permits: “There are a number of issues which we have to agree with them. By the end of this month, we will award them the licences,” he said.

Uganda
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Operator BG Group has drilled a successful appraisal well on the Pweza discovery as it seeks to firm up the reserves needed for a two-train LNG plant. Partner Ophir Energy said the Pweza-2 well was drilled 2km to the south of the Pweza-1 discovery well in Block 4 and was located downdip of the discovery well. The well intersected 20 metres of net pay with excellent reservoir quality, which was confirmed to be in pressure communication with Pweza-1.

Tanzania
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Wood Group Kenny Australia has won a contract to provide engineering and project management services to Sunbird Energy Ltd for the Ibhubesi gas project. The initial phase of work involves the concept and definition phases, with the aim of moving the project into front-end engineering design (FEED) in Q1 2014. The project is likely to include a subsea gathering system, an offshore processing facility, a 400km subsea pipeline and an onshore plant.

South Africa
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Ahead of a government decision on whether to authorise shale gas exploration, water and environmental affairs minister Edna Molewa has invoked the National Water Act and opened a public consultation process, saying that operators will require a water use licence before being allowed to start hydraulic fracturing to explore in the Karoo region. Molewa has asked for public comment on the notice, which covers fracking and other elements of onshore exploration and production activity involving unconventional oil and gas resources. An interdepartmental task team has also been established to investigate fracking issues ahead of a government decision – which is expected before the 2014 elections.

South Africa
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A company headed by former UK Conservative Party chief Michael Howard has won substantial rights to Somali exploration acreage in exchange for funding seismic acquisition. With delays to a promised new oil law, and no sign of a planned licensing round, conspiracy theories abound, but Soma argues that the deal is exactly what the country needs. “The government aims to accelerate the pace of exploration and development activity and open up the country’s hydrocarbons industry,” said a company spokesman. “Soma’s work will demonstrate to the IOCs that it is possible operationally to work in the country and thereby encourage the IOCs to recommence their work programmes.”

Somalia
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Upstream players have so far remained unfazed by the violent political changes of the summer. They were likewise relatively untroubled by the 14-month-long Muslim Brotherhood administration of President Mohammed Morsi, in spite of its various missteps and failures. However, it now looks likely that the new administration will move quickly to create new financial incentives for international oil companies (IOCs) and to reduce the pressure on them caused by the growing value of arrears owed by Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) and its subsidiaries.

Egypt
Issue 261 - 14 September 2013

South Africa: USTDA cash for Ibhubesi


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The US Trade and Development Agency has awarded a grant to Australia’s Sunbird Energy to support the development of the Ibhubesi offshore gas field. The grant will fund a study to be carried out by MHA Associates of Denver, Colorado. USTDA will provide 80% (about $743,000) of the funding for the Ibhubesi gas project field development plan. The work will include studies on reservoir modelling, production forecasts and the design of a production drilling programme. Sunbird agreed in December 2012 to acquire a 76% stake in the Ibhubesi gas project from US companies Forest Oil and Anschutz (AE 246/16). The other 24% is held by PetroSA.

South Africa
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Genel Energy has announced that it has agreed to acquire a 40% interest in the Adigala Block in north-east Ethiopia from New Age (African Global Energy) Limited. Genel will pay a share of back costs and of a 2D seismic survey planned by year-end. New Age reprocessed 520km of existing 2D seismic in 2012 and carried out a full tensor gravity survey.

Ethiopia
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Ghana’s cabinet has approved a deal between Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) and AGM Petroleum Ghana to explore the South Deepwater Tano Block. AGM Ghana is a subsidiary of AGM Gibraltar, owned by Norway’s AGR Energy (49.5%), Minexco (48%) and local player MED Songhai Developers (2.5%). GNPC will jointly operate the block through its new upstream subsidiary, GNPC Exploration and Production Company Limited, with a 79% stake. AGM Gibraltar will hold a 21% interest through its local subsidiary AGM Ghana, although the agreement is still subject to parliamentary ratification.

Ghana
Issue 260 - 09 August 2013

Tanzania: New BG gas find

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Operator BG has made another new gas discovery with the Mkizi-1 well, drilled by the Deepsea Metro I drillship in 1,301 metres of water between the Mzia and Jodari discoveries in Block 1. The well encountered 33 metres of gas pay in three reservoir intervals within a Tertiary-aged stacked channel complex.

Tanzania
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The development of an extension to a gas field in the offshore area north-west of Tripoli, combined with new exploration in the same area, are likely to become the first major projects to go ahead in post-revolution Libya’s gas sector. The projects will be carried out by Italy’s Eni and its Libyan joint venture Mellitah Oil and Gas (MOG), and will probably be serviced from marine bases in Malta, which may also play a role in proposed joint exploration between the two countries. One of the reasons why attention is likely to return to Libya’s offshore in the near future is that onshore projects are fraught with security difficulties and most planned developments are still on hold. BP, the other company with major offshore exploration ahead of it, also hopes to start drilling later in 2014, while its onshore Ghadames Basin exploration has been put off.

Libya
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The events at In Aménas in January were the product of intelligence failures at a number of levels. Most dramatic is an allegation that, by November 2012, the Département du Renseignement et de la Sécurité (DRS) intelligence service had detailed information showing that a group related to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), led by Mohamed-Lamine Bouchneb (aka Abou Aïcha) and co-ordinated by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, was planning to attack Algerian petroleum installations. That attack took place – almost exactly as described – just two months later.

Algeria
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Nigeria’s South Atlantic Petroleum has given Norway’s Petroleum Geo-Services a contract to acquire more than 9,000km2 of 3D seismic in the central Mozambique Channel. The Ramform Sterling vessel will acquire more than 7,000km2 in the Juan de Nova permit, a French overseas territory, and more than 2,000km2 in Madagascar’s Belo Profond licence.

Madagascar
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India’s state-owned ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) and Oil India have signed an agreement worth $2.47bn with Videocon Industries to acquire its 10% stake in Anadarko’s Rovuma Basin Area 1. Under the agreement, signed in Singapore on 25 June, OVL and Oil India have formed a 60/40 joint venture through which they will contribute to the costs of field development and a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility. The deal requires the approval of the Mozambican and Indian governments and is expected to reach financial close during Q4 2013. Videocon, a conglomerate controlled by Indian tycoon Venugopal Dhoot, paid $75m for the Rovuma stake in 2008, before giant gas finds caused its value to soar.

Mozambique