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05 January 2012

Pre-salt in Angola is for good

A small piece of news quitely surfaced yesterday that could have an important impact on future oil production. Simply put: hydrocarbons where found in pre-salt layers in Angola's waters. This is the confirmation of the expectations some industry agents (especially Petrobras) had built in recent years around the possibility of an Atlantic wide pre-salt resource. The Danish company Maersk was able to recover oil of “good quality” from a well in a block in the Kwanza Basin, part of a joint venture with Sonangol and Svenska (these are blocks that had been commissioned prior to the large auction that took place last month). In its statement to the press Maersk quoted a potential production figure of 3 000 barrels per day from this well.

As usual the depth figures on for this sort of reservoirs are astounding: almost 1000 meters of water column plus over 5000 meters of strata. Without much further detail one can assume these conditions are similar to those found in Brasilian shores. Though Maersk is quite upbeat on this finding it also leaves a word of caution on what may result from it. In first place the seismic data has to be fully processed and to it follow conventional drilling tests. Lars Nydahl Jorgensen, Head of Exploration, pours some cold water on any potential hype: “Fully appraising the discovery will take several years and it is far too early to guess the outcome”.

Without the pre-salt resource Angola's oil production was set to enter its terminal decline still this decade. If these now confirmed resources come to be economically viable and in enough quantities, the country can continue being a relevant oil exporter for many years to come. Coming to be that the case, it is nonetheless quite telling the amount of uncertainty surrounding oil discoveries these days.
Maersk Oil strikes oil with its first pre-salt well in Angola
1/4/2012 8:00 AM 

Sociedade Nacional de Combustíveis de Angola   Empresa Pública (Sonangol, E.P.), Maersk Oil and other partners declared the Azul-1 deepwater exploration well, located in Block 23 in the Kwanza Basin, a discovery well.

The Azul-1 well, the first to penetrate pre-salt objectives in Angolan deepwater, was drilled in water depths of 923 meters and reached a final depth of 5,334 meters. The condition of the well prevented an assessment of flow capacity by a conventional test. This was performed as a mini-Drill Stem Test that enabled the recovery of two good quality oil samples.

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