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Regional Update


  • Gas was discovered at the Mbawa-1 exploration well in the L8 license area, the first hydrocarbon discovery offshore Kenya. The well was drilled to a depth of 2553 m and encountered around 52 m of net gas pay in porous Cretaceous sandstones. The well will be drilled to a total depth of 3275 m. Apache (50%) is operator, with Origin Energy (20%), Tullow Oil (15%), and Pancontinental (15%).
  • Eni made the first oil discovery in the Offshore Cape Three Points (OCTP) block, located in the Tano Basin about 31 miles offshore Ghana. The Sankofa East-1X well reached a total depth of 11,975 ft in 2,707 ft of water, and encountered 92 ft of gas and condensate and 249 ft of gross oil pay in Cretaceous sandstones. Eni (47.222%), through its subsidiary Eni Ghana Exploration and Production, is operator of the OCTP block, with Vitol Upstream Ghana (37.778%) and state company GNPC (15%).


  • Manas Petroleum’s subsidiary, Gobi Energy Partners spudded its second well—Ger-Chuluu D1—in the East Gobi Basin in Mongolia. In locating the well, Gobi Energy is targeting a mixed stratigraphic/structural trap on the eastern flank. The company intends to drill this well to a total depth of 650 m. Manas (through Gobi Energy) owns a 74% working interest in two production-sharing contracts covering Blocks XIII and XIV, with Shunkhlai Group (Mongolia) (10%), a Hong Kong-based group (8%), and a Swiss group (8%).
  • Lundin spudded the third well in its 2012 Malaysian drilling campaign—the Merawan Batu-1 exploration well in the PM308B block, offshore east coast Peninsular Malaysia. The vertical well, to be drilled to a depth of 11,759 ft in about 195 ft of water, is targeting hydrocarbons in Oligocene-aged sands in a faulted anticline in an undrilled area 31 miles to the west of Lundin’s 2011 Janglau oil discovery. Lundin, through its subsidiary Lundin Malaysia, holds a 75% interest in the block, with Petronas (25%).


  • The Australian federal government granted seven new offshore petroleum exploration permits—located offshore Northern Territory and Western Australia—as part of the second round of its 2011 Exploration Acreage Release. Permit recipients include Tangiers Petroleum (NT/P83, released as NT11-1); Shell Development (Australia) (WA-477-P, released as W11-2); Pathfinder Energy (WA-479-P, released as W11-4); Repsol Exploration (WA-480-P, released as W11-8); Liberty Petroleum (WA-482-P, released as W11-9); Woodside Energy and Japan Australia LNG (WA-478-P, released as W11-14); and Murphy Australia Oil, Kufpec Australia, and Samsung Oil & Gas Australia (WA-481-P, released as W11-18). The permit holders aim to spend around AUD 277 million exploring these areas during the next 3 years.
  • The Satyr-2 well encountered about 128 ft of net gas pay. It is located within WA-274-P in the Gorgon area about 75 miles northwest of Barrow Island off the Western Australia coast. Chevron (50%) is operator, with ExxonMobil (25%) and Royal Dutch Shell (25%).


  • Following consent granted by the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway, Marathon Oil has assumed operatorship of the Vilje field in Block 25/4 of production license 036D, located on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, west of Haugesund and close to the UK border. Vilje has been developed via two subsea wells connected to the Alvheim floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) vessel. Marathon has a 46.904% interest in the Vilje field, with Statoil (28.853%) and Total E&P Norge (24.243%).
  • A 3D-seismic-acquisition survey, carried out by Lukoil subsidiary Lukoil Overseas is under way on the East Rapsodia and Trident blocks in the Romanian sector of the Black Sea. Seismic operations are being carried out by CGGVeritas. The planned scope of the survey will be up to 772 sq miles. Lukoil Overseas (80%) is operator, with Vanco International (20%).

Middle East

  • The Jordanian government signed a preliminary agreement with Canada’s Global Oil Shale Holdings (GOSH) to explore Jordan’s oil-shale resources. Under the agreement, GOSH is set to launch exploration of the central region of al-Attarat-Um El-Ghudran, believed to hold the bulk of the country’s estimated 45 billion metric tons of oil-shale reserves. The term of the agreement is 24 months, during which GOSH is allowed to conduct feasibility studies and carry out drilling operations in the 220-km2 area.
  • Exploration drilling has commenced at the East Simrit prospect (Simrit-3 well), located on the Ain Sifni PSC in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. The well is about 6 miles east of the Simrit-2 discovery well and is exploring the eastern extent of the large-scale Simrit anticline. Hunt Oil Middle East (60%) is operator, with Afren (20%) and the Kurdistan Regional Government (20%).

North America

  • Petrobras started production at its Chinook field in the US Gulf of Mexico. The Chinook #4 well was drilled and completed in Lower Tertiary reservoirs. Production from Chinook is processed by the BW Pioneer, the first FPSO to operate in US waters. Petrobras (66.67%) is operator, with Total E&P USA (33.33%).

South America

  • The Dorados-1X exploration well—in the 58,570-acre Talora block located in Colombia’s Magdalena Basin, 60 km west of Bogota—reached a depth of 6,685 ft. The well is targeting the Cretaceous Caballos and Tetuan formations and encountered multiple hydrocarbon-bearing sandstone zones in the Middle Cretaceous section, above the main target zones. The well was cased and is drilling ahead. Petrodorado (65%) is operator, with Sintana Energy (30%) and Trayectoria (5%).
  • The Aguada Los Loros x-1 exploration well—drilled on the 98,300-gross-acre Los Toldos I block in Argentina—reached total depth of 10,554 ft and was cased and cemented. The well drilled through 1,843 ft of the primary target Vaca Muerta formation, with oil and gas shows through most of the shale section, as well as in secondary targets. Americas Petrogas (45%) is operator, with ExxonMobil (45%) and Gas y Petroleo del Neuquen (10%).