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Despite depressed oil prices, the Gabonese 11th deepwater licensing round has generated considerable interest from both International Oil Companies (IOCs) and newcomers alike, encouraged by the success of exploration in the conjugate margin offshore Brazil, as well as recent pre-salt discoveries such as Ruche, Tortue, Diaman and Leopard in nearby Gabonese waters. CGG has worked directly with the Direction Generale des Hydrocarbures of Gabon (DGH) to acquire and process over 25,000 km2 of new 3D BroadSeis™ multi-client seismic data over available and licensed blocks in the South Basin to enable evaluation of this prospective area. A fast-track pre-stack time-migrated dataset for this survey is available now, along with sample pre-stack depth reverse time-migrated (RTM) data in one area. The final RTM for the whole of the survey area will be available this summer.

The objective of the survey is to image potential prospective structures at base salt level without compromising the shallower post-salt image quality. The data do not disappoint. Even a preliminary ultra-fast-track dataset produced onboard was described as “way beyond expectations” by a major oil company interpreter. On the full fast-track dataset, more detail below the salt is being revealed than has ever been seen before, revolutionising the understanding of the geology of the area. Early seismic imaging results indicate the presence of thick syn-rift and sag sequences below the salt, which are the key intervals of a pre-salt petroleum system and indicate many exciting prospects, some of which continue beyond the borders of the survey so that their full extent cannot be gauged.

This survey is being processed using the latest high-end imaging technology to produce the clearest images. The fast-track PSTM volume shows clear uplift over the existing data, while the fast-track PSDM shows the full benefits of advanced velocity modelling and depth-migrated modern broadband 3D seismic data. The uplift in subsalt imaging that will be achieved in the final dataset is dramatic; the RTM fully depth-migrated example line shows clearly defined tilted fault blocks and horst features as well as the highly complex nature of the thrusted and distorted salt and sediment overburden.

Multi-layer tomography (TomoML) and full waveform inversion (FWI) are being used to create the final velocity model, with RTM being used in the velocity model building iterations. The high-quality, low-frequency data acquired using the BroadSeis solution is particularly beneficial for FWI as the low frequencies prevent cycle-skipping. The imaging improvement from the FWI velocity model can be seen both in the shallower section, where pull-up/push-down image distortions are precisely corrected, and in the deeper salt bodies, where salt flanks and subsalt reflectors show improved focus and continuity due to better overburden description.

Although this dataset delivers unprecedented images of the subsurface in this area, additional data are being acquired to improve the imaging still further in the most complex geology to the southeast of the survey. Tailored multi-vessel survey design is enabling longer offsets, up to 14 km in the same orientation as the original data, to be acquired over block F14. In block F15, adjacent to the Congo border, a second orthogonal azimuth of the full range of offsets, including those up to 14 km, is being acquired. Longer offsets and dual azimuths are expected to improve the sub-salt illumination and provide even greater clarity of the most challenging structures. In order to acquire these long offsets an additional source vessel is being deployed. Synchronised source technology and blended acquisition are being used to enable the shot interval to be less than the record length, so that source density, and therefore fold of coverage, can be maintained.

All the survey data form the centrepiece of an integrated geoscience project which will include interpretation of the gravity data acquired with the seismic to analyse the deep structure of the basin, analysis of the key wells in the area, full seismic interpretation in the depth domain with integration of satellite seep data to identify potential natural hydrocarbon escape conduits and production of palaeogeographic, reservoir distribution and source rock maturity maps of key stratigraphic intervals, among other products. Integrated studies are becoming increasingly popular as they provide a single validated source for information and each individual part is improved by understanding the requirements of the larger project. Large multi-client surveys also provide a cost-effective means of acquiring high-quality 3D seismic data which allows oil companies to reduce their exploration risk in both mature and frontier areas and helps to reduce the time required from licensing award to drilling wells.

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September, 21 2019
Your Weekly Update: 16 - 20 September 2019

Market Watch  

Headline crude prices for the week beginning 16 September 2019 – Brent: US$69/b; WTI: US$63/b

  • Global crude oil prices surged at the start of the week as news that a successful drone strike on the Abqaiq processing plant and the Khurais oil field in Saudi Arabia took out over half of the Kingdom’s crude production capacity
  • Brent prices jumped above US$70/b at one point on fears on global supply disruption, but abated as President Donald Trump authorises the release of US strategic petroleum reserves to cover the market
  • Initial fears that the Saudi Arabian crude output would be crippled for months proved to be extreme, with Saudi Aramco announcing that some 70% of capacity at Abqaiq had been restored within days
  • But more worryingly is that this incident escalates the risk of a full-blown military confrontation with Iran; the US was quick to accuse Iran of the attack, citing data on the attack, which was denied by Iran
  • Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attack, although initial results of a Saudi investigation pointed to the weapons originating from Iran
  • For now, crude oil prices have retreated as the risk of widespread supply disruption abated, but tensions are still high in the region
  • This comes after President Trump signals that he was considering easing sanctions in an apparent thaw in the US-Iran relationship; this opportunity now appears to have evaporated
  • Saudi Arabia’s new oil energy minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, made a positive impression at the recent OPEC+ meeting, with errant members of the group signalling that they were now ready to adhere to the supply deal
  • In Venezuela, the oil crisis continues as ongoing US sanctions now mean that the country cannot find enough vessels to transport its crude, as shippers fear losing insurance coverage if they transport Venezuelan oil
  • Iran has released the UK-flagged Stena Impero vessel that it had impounded, a lone bright spot in a region now clouded by geopolitical tensions
  • Against this backdrop, the US active rig count recorded yet another fall, losing five oil and seven gas rigs for a net drop of 12 to a new total of 886 rigs
  • With the shock of the Saudi drone attacks abating, crude oil prices are retreating back to their previous range – US$60-63 for Brent and US$56-59/b for WTI – as the impact of global supply was minimised; another attack, however, might cause a more permanent shift in prices


Headlines of the week

Upstream

  • Equinor has received consent from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate to continue operations at the Tordis and Vigdis fields through 2036 and 2040, respectively, extending the life of the North Sea fields by 34 years
  • BP has announced that it will deploy continuous measurement of methane emissions for all future oil and gas projects in a bid to reduce emissions
  • CNOPC and Niger have agreed to collaborate on a 1,892km pipeline to carry oil from Niger’s Agadem rift basin to port facilities in Benin
  • The South African government is tabling a new law that will allow the state to take a free stake of up to 10% in all new oil and gas ventures, hoping to capitalise on a surge in upstream interest after Total’s Brulpadda discovery

Midstream/Downstream

  • As the IMO deadline for low-sulfur marine fuels approaches, refiners have begun stockpiling supplies of very low-sulfur fuel oil to ensure adequate supply; this includes Japan’s Cosmo Oil that aims to begin supplying VLSFO to the domestic marine market by October 2019
  • IndianOil’s Gujarat refinery stated it ready to produce 12,900 b/d of VLSFO by October while its Haldia refinery will start producing 5,500 b/d of VLSFO by December; this should be adequate to cover the India’s marine fuel demand
  • India is considering selling a stake in BPCL, the country’s second largest refiner, to an international firm to boost competition in downstream fuel retailing that has historically been dominated by state firms
  • Valero Energy and Darling Ingredients are launching the first renewable gasoil plant in Texas, focusing on producing renewable diesel and naphtha
  • In the UK, Essar Oil’s Stanlow refinery aims to increase its diet of US crude from a current 35% to 40%, leveraging on cheaper American oil
  • The after-effects of Russia’s contaminated crude through the Druzhba pipeline continues as Total issues a tender to sell 1.3 million barrels of tainted Ural crude through Rotterdam after failing to process it

Natural Gas/LNG

  • Poland has won a ruling from the EU courts to reduce Russian control over the key EU Opal pipeline that carries Russian gas from the Nord Stream link to Germany, preventing Gazprom from using most of Opal capacity in a bit to increase energy security for Eastern European countries
  • Vitol and Mozambique’s state player ENH have set up a new joint venture in Singapore to capitalise on trading opportunities for LNG, LPG, and condensate
  • Australia’s Liquefied Natural Gas Ltd and Delta Offshore Energy will supply gas from the Magnolia fields to an LNG-to-power project in Bac Lieu, Vietnam
  • Eni’s Baltim South West gas field offshore Egypt has started up production, only 3 years after discovery, producing an initial 100 mscf/d of gas
  • US gas player Sempra is looking to take FID on its Energia Costa Azul LNG project in Mexico’s Baja California region by the end of 2019
  • Egypt has announced that it expects to receive first natural gas from Israel by end-2019 through the East Mediterranean Gas pipeline, with initial supplies of 200 mscf/d that will rise to 500 mscf/d by 2020
  • The Independence floating LNG terminal in Lithuania – built to reduce the Baltic region’s dependence on Russian gas – is set to receive its first-ever cargo from Siberia, likely from Novatek’s LNG projects in Yamal
September, 20 2019
Financial Review: Second-Quarter 2019
Key findings
  • Brent crude oil daily average prices were 9% lower in second-quarter 2019 than in second-quarter 2018 and averaged $68 per barrel
  • The 117 companies in this study increased their combined liquids production 4.6% in second-quarter 2019 from second-quarter 2018, and their natural gas production increased 5.0% during the same period
  • Nearly half of the companies were free cash flow positive—that is, they generated more cash from operations than their capital expenditures
  • Dividends plus share repurchases were nearly one-third of cash from operations, slightly lower than the six-year high set in first-quarter 2019

Distributions to shareholders via dividends and share repurchases amounted to nearly 33% of cash from operations


See entire second-quarter review

September, 20 2019