Chevron starts production from Lifua-A project offshore Angola

Angola’s Agency for Petroleum, Gas and Biofuel (ANPG) and Chevron’s local subsidiary CABGOC have announced the start of production from the Lifua-A project within Block 0.

Chevron intends to develop the Lifua reserves via three different phases, Lifua-A, -B, and -C. Phase A relies on a stacked template structure (STS) platform with ten wells, including six production wells and four injectors. All fabrication was carried out locally in Cabinda by Algoa Cabinda Fabrication Services.

“The Lifua-A platform is interconnected with the existing facilities in the Takula Area and is expected to produce a total of 6,500 barrels of oil per day from the Vermelha and Likouala reservoirs,” the ANPG said.

The development of Lifua benefits from fiscal incentives granted under Angola’s marginal fields legislation. In November 2019, Executive Decree 328/18 granted marginal field status to the Lifua, 83-N, Kambala and N’Dola Sul fields in Block 0, data from Hawilti+ shows. In Angola, one of the conditions for a field to be considered marginal is that its proven oil reserves do not exceed 300 million barrels.

Block 0 is located in shallow waters and is one of Angola’s most prolific assets with over 20 fields currently producing. Chevron is engaged in several brownfield development projects there, including the Sanha Lean Gas Connection (SLGC) project whose final investment decision (FID) was taken two years ago to supply gas feedstock to Angola LNG and the Soyo power plant.

Out of the remaining discoveries that were granted marginal field status in 2019, N’Dola Sul is expected to be developed under a similar scheme as Lifua-A, according to Sonangol records.

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Angola: ExxonMobil to invest $200m in Namibe Basin exploration

Some $200m is being invested into exploring Blocks 30, 44 and 45 in the frontier Namibe Basin offshore Angola, according to the country’s Ministry of Mineral Resources, Petroleum and Gas (MIREMPET). The blocks are operated by ExxonMobil (60%) under Risk Service Contracts signed at the end of 2020 with Sonangol E&P (40%) and the Agency for Petroleum, Gas and Biofuel (ANPG) for the three blocks. On Tuesday this week, the three parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding to pave the way for exploration on the blocks, during a ceremony witnessed by Minister Diamantino Pedro Azevedo. Angola expects some $200m to be invested into seismic studies and the drilling of an exploratory well on the blocks by 2024, according to MIREMPET. In case of a successful commercial discovery, some $15bn could be invested into the development of reserves in the Namibe Basin to start production by 2030.   “Estimated revenue for the State from the development of a single major commercial discovery can range from $20bn to $40bn, given a conservative oil price forecast of $50-60,” MIREMPET said. ExxonMobil has mobilised the Valaris DS-9 drillship offshore Angola until July 2024, the Hawilti/Caverton Offshore Rigs Tracker shows. So far, drilling has focused on the company’s producing Block 15 where a new discovery was made at the Bavuca Sul-1 well last year.

NNPC and Eroton E&P clash over operatorship of one of Nigeria’s most prolific oil and gas blocks

Nigeria’s NNPC announced on March 6th the appointment of NNPC Eighteen Operating Ltd as operator of Oil Mining Lease 18 (OML 18) onshore Nigeria by the block’s non-operating joint-venture partners. OML 18 is operated by Eroton Exploration and Production Co. (27%) while non-operating partners include NNPC (55%), OML 18 Energy Resource (Sahara Group, 16.2%) and Bilton (1.8%). Eroton was removed as operator of the joint-venture to protect the partners’ investment in OML 18, NNPC said. OML 18 has been unable to produce oil for several months due to the unavailability of the Aiteo-operated Nembe Creek Trunk Line (NCTL) that provides a connection to Shell’s Bonny oil export terminal. As a result, production has fallen from some 30,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd) a few years ago to zero for most of last year, data from NNPC shows. In comparison, Eroton E&P’s initial intention after taking operatorship of the asset in 2014 had been to increase production to 115,000 bopd of oil and 485 MMscf/d of gas. Such performance is deemed unsatisfying for an asset that covers 1,035 km2 and contains 11 discovered oil and gas fields with 714 million stock tank barrels of oil and condensate and 4.7 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of gas reserves, according to NNPC. However, Eroton E&P is not the only to suffer from reliance on the NCTL. Data from NNPC shows that all neighboring blocks and joint-ventures who rely on that pipeline have been unable to get oil to market since April 2022. To mitigate the impact of crude theft and pipeline losses, an Alternative Crude Oil Evacuation System (ACOES) had been approved by the partners to barge oil to a floating, offloading and storage (FSO) vessel offshore Bonny. While limited barging reportedly started in June 2022, COVID-19 and delays in mooring the FSO have postponed the commissioning of the ACOES and prevented resumption of production. San Leon Energy’s Transactions The replacement of Eroton E&P as operator comes at a time when LSE-listed San Leon Energy is working to secure a controlling interest over Eroton E&P, OML 18, and the ACOES project. The company already owns 40% of Midwestern Leon Petroleum Ltd (MLPL), the entity that owns Martwestern, which itself owns 98% of Eroton E&P. In July 2021, San Leon signed Heads of Terms to reorganize MLPL and acquire the remaining 60% of the company from Midwestern Oil & Gas. Such a transaction would increase San Leon’s indirect economic interest in Eroton E&P from 39.2% to 98%. In parallel, Eroton E&P is planning to acquire Sahara Group's 16.2% and Bilton's 1.8% interests in OML 18, with funding from the Afreximbank. The consolidation of Eroton E&P's interest in OML 18 is one of the conditions that must be completed for San Leon to proceed with its reorganisation of MLPL. If Eroton was to consolidate its interest in OML 18, and if San Leon was to secure a controlling interest of Eroton, its indirect economic interest in OML 18 would increase from 10.58% to 44.1%. In parallel, San Leon has also invested in the ACOES being developed for OML 18 and owns 10% equity plus a conditional further 3.323% equity in ELI Malta, the owner and operator of the ACOES project. In July 2022, a Reorganisation Agreement was signed, whose completion would increase San Leon’s interest in ELI to 50.64%. The appointment and replacement of Eroton E&P as operator of OML 18 throws uncertainty both over San Leon’s transactions but also over redevelopment plans for one of Nigeria’s biggest assets in reserves size and infrastructure capacity. Since this article was first written, Eroton E&P has categorically contested NNPC's move. "We hereby re-iterate that Eroton remains the Operator of OML-18 in line with the provisions of the JOA and any dispute whatsoever between the parties are reserved exclusively for resolution under the Dispute Resolution clause of the JOA. The actions of the other JV partners (NNPC and Sahara) remain illegal and run contrary to the rule of law and in total breach of the terms and conditions stipulated in JOA," the company said in a statement. This article was updated on March 14th to reflect Eroton E&P's position and statement.