Eni to start exploratory drilling offshore Congo


Borr Drilling’s Prospector 5 jackup drilling rig has reached the Central African coast where it is expected to start drilling soon for Eni Congo.

In August 2022, Borr Drilling had announced the signing of a letter of intent worth $68.9m for Prospector 5 to execute a 6-well firm program expected to start in Q4 2022 with a duration of 14 months plus options. Hawilti got confirmation from Eni officials that the rig is indeed mobilized by the major offshore Congo.

The campaign is expected to start with the drilling of two exploratory wells on Marine VI bis, a block operated by Eni in partnership with Congo’s national oil company, SNPC. The block holds several prospects that have been matured over the past few years, including Mbenga, Poalvou Deep, and Ikalou SW. While Eni is yet to reveal which prospect(s) will be targeted, the Prospector 5 is currently heading towards Poalvou, data from Marine Traffic shows.

This will be the second rig mobilized by Eni offshore Congo, data from Hawilti’s Offshore Rigs Tracker shows. The Borr Natt rig has already been contracted by the Italian major since January 2022, under a contract set to end in January 2023, unless options are exercised.

Once exploratory drilling is completed on Marine VI bis, the Prospector 5 will support development drilling on Marine XII, where Eni is developing gas reserves to start exporting LNG next year. The Prospector 5 rig will drill five development wells on Marine XII, according to SNPC.

Market activity has steadily picked up in Congo over the past year, with drilling mostly focused on shallow water blocks. In its Q1 2022 Exploration Watch, Hawilti notably reported the drilling of the Lidongo Marine-1 well on Marine XI by Mercuria. According to company sources, the well successfully tested one zone and flowed oil.

While the resumption of drilling is good news for Congo, a country that produces some 270,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd), more could be on the table. Last year, TotalEnergies announced it was planning to drill the Niamou prospect on Marine XX, a deep-water block it secured in February 2020. Along with its partner Woodside Energy, the French major believes that Niamou is a large attractive deep offshore prospect which could help maintain Congo’s output in the medium term.

(article updated on 7 November 2022 to reflect details of the drilling campaign provided by SNPC.)

More information on projects activity in the Republic of Congo is available on your Hawilti+ research terminal – plus.hawilti.com.

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