From VAALCO getting approval for its Venus project to TotalEnergies farming into QatarEnergy’s North Field South project to new contract awards and the launch of new products, below is a compilation of the latest headlines in the E&P space within the past week.

Activity headlines

Venus go-ahead for VAALCO

VAALCO Energy Venus map
(Source: VAALCO Energy)

VAALCO Energy has received approval to develop the Venus project in Block P offshore Equatorial Guinea, with a target of first oil in 2026. 

VAALCO expects to spud the first development well in early 2024. The $310 million standalone project costs include two development wells, an injection well and the production infrastructure. 

Once onstream, VAALCO expects production of 15,000 bbl/d based on results from the initial discovery well and reservoir modeling. The Venus field holds an estimated 23 MMbbl of oil.

VAALCO operates the project with 80% interest on behalf of partner Guinea Ecuatorial de Petroleós (GEPetrol) with the remaining 20% interest.

Court overturns Barossa drilling permit


Australia Court Scraps Drilling Permit for Santos' $3.6 Billion Barossa Gas Project

Santos has suspended drilling and completion activities at its Barossa gas project in the Timor Sea after a federal court overturned the drilling permit based on a challenge from an indigenous group. 

Santos said it had suspended activities pending a favorable appeal outcome or approval of a fresh environment plan and that the operator plans to expedite these processes.

Justice Bromberg set aside the acceptance by Australia’s National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) of an environmental plan covering the drilling and completion activities in relation to the Barossa project. The decision was based on a finding that the drilling environment plan failed to demonstrate that Santos consulted with each person that it was required by regulations to consult with. The challenge for the drilling permit came from an indigenous group in the Tiwi Islands.

According to Santos, the Barossa project is about 46% complete and the drilling activities are not on the critical path for the project. 

Santos operates Barossa with 50% interest on behalf of partners SK E&S with 37.5% and JERA with 12.5% interest. 

PGNiG has dry well in Norwegian Sea

Deepsea Yantai Odfjell drilling
Odfjell Drilling’s Deepsea Yantai drilled well 6608/1-1 S. (Source: Odfjell Drilling)

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate reported PGNiG Upstream Norway’s 6608/1-1 S well was dry.

The well, 50 km east of the Aasta Hansteen field in the Norwegian Sea, was the first exploration well in production license 1017.

The  Deepsea Yantai semisubmersible drilled the well, which sought petroleum in the Pliocene reservoir rocks in the lower part of the Naust Formation. The well in 490 m water depth did not encounter reservoir rocks at the presumed reservoir depth. The well was drilled to a depth of 2,400 m below sea level and terminated in the Kai Formation.

The well has been permanently plugged and abandoned.

Contracts and company news

TotalEnergies farms into North Field South


QatarEnergy Signs Deal with TotalEnergies for North Field South Expansion

TotalEnergies will obtain 9.375% participating interest in QuatarEnergy’s North Field South (NFS) LNG project. QatarEnergy had made 25% of the project available to international partners but will hold 75% in the project.

Through its combined participating interests in North Field East (NFE) (6.25%) and NFS, TotalEnergies will add 3.5 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of LNG production to its worldwide LNG portfolio by 2028, in line with its objective to increase the share of natural gas in its sales mix to 50% by 2030.

The overall North Field Expansion project, which includes NFE and NFS, aims to increase LNG production from the North Field, adding 48 mtpa to Qatar’s export capacity and bringing it to 126 mtpa by 2028. The upstream part of the project will develop the southern area of the North Field with five platforms, 50 wells and gas pipelines to the onshore processing plant. Downstream, there will be two 8 mtpa liquefaction trains. According to TotalEnergies, NFS will benefit from significant synergies with NFE, making it one of the most cost-competitive LNG projects worldwide. 

Wintershall, OMV pick Transocean Norge

Transocean announced a contract from Wintershall Dea Norge and OMV Norge for harsh environment semi-submersible Transocean Norge for all the wells in their respective 2023-2027  drilling campaigns, subject to rig availability and other conditions.

Under the deal, the Transocean Norge will drill eleven wells for Wintershall Dea Norge and six for OMV Norge. A portion of this work is subject to operator and government approvals. If all are approved, the full contract period is 1,071 days at an average of $408,000/day, which would contribute $437 million in backlog, excluding bonuses and additional services. The contract contains additional fixed price option wells.

Transocean owns a 33% interest in the Transocean Norge through a joint venture with Hayfin Capital Management LLP.

New AI solution for directional drilling

Schlumberger launched Neuro autonomous solutions to create a continuous feedback loop between surface and downhole. It combines cloud-based software and connected intelligent systems to increase the efficiency and consistency of E&P operations while reducing human intervention and footprint, according to the service company.

“Neuro autonomous solutions transform hydrocarbon exploration and development workflows for the well construction process today and lay the groundwork for our customers to achieve fully autonomous operations tomorrow,” Abdellah Merad, executive vice president of Core Services & Equipment at Schlumberger, said. 

The company plans to scale autonomous solutions across the energy value chain, he added.

Schlumberger’s first Neuro solution delivers steering autonomy for directional drilling. The solution uses artificial intelligence with surface and downhole automation workflows to self-determine steering sequences and deliver the well trajectory on plan. As the well is drilled, a real-time continuous feedback loop between an intelligent downhole system and a surface advisory system automates downlinks, reducing control loop time. The instantaneous correlation between downhole and surface actions in accordance with the well plan significantly reduces risk, refines precision and increases efficiency—reducing associated drilling emissions.

Neuro autonomous solutions for directional drilling have been deployed across North America, South America, Middle East and East Asia on more than 50 rigs and on 131 customer wells, drilling 612,000 ft. 

In the Middle East, an operator used Neuro to autonomously drill a well from 22° to 90° inclination with a curve section measuring 2,500 ft and a 5,400-ft lateral section. Both sections were performed using an autonomous-capable rotary steerable system that contributed to the balance between surface and downhole autonomy enabling the operator to reduce downlinks by 33%, as compared to offset wells drilled in manual mode, while achieving a 13% increase in rate of penetration.

PRIO takes over Itaipu

Prio Itaipu map
Once the transaction closes, PRIO will hold 100% interest in the Itaipu presalt discovery. (Source: PRIO)

After buying out Total Energies E&P Brasil Ltda’s 40% holding in Block BM-C-32, Petro Rio (PRIO) will hold 100% interest in the Itaipu discovery. In June 2021, PRIO acquired 60% interest in the field from BP Energy do Brasil Ltda.

PRIO is paying Total Energies US$75,000 for the interest on the conclusion of the transaction and US$26.9 million later.

Itaipu was discovered in 2009 in 1300-m water depth in the presalt of the Campos basin. Three wells were drilled to assess the reservoir and a formation test was carried out in the discovery well, showing good productivity and light oil of 31º API. The block is adjacent to the Parque das Baleias cluster and close to the Wahoo Field. PRIO says its preliminary studies indicate the accumulation is potentially shared with the southeast region of the adjacent cluster.

New MoU for subsea energy storage solutions

Baker Hughes, Mocean Energy and Verlume have signed a tri-party memorandum of understanding (MoU) to identify and discuss potential opportunities for collaboration on integrated wave energy and subsea energy storage solutions.

The MoU will explore the opportunities for integrated wave energy, energy storage and power delivery solutions to facilitate the electrification of subsea assets.

In the first two years, the three companies will work to deploy a reliable, uninterrupted power supply located at point of use for cost-effective and market-competitive electrical power solutions. This could be within temporary, permanent or back-up use cases, including for charging systems for underwater vehicles and subsea production control systems.

Baker Hughes will focus on design and manufacture of subsea production equipment, and supply subsea hardware including controls systems, power systems and other ancillary equipment. Verlume will focus on the design and delivery of its Halo subsea energy storage system, and Mocean Energy will concentrate on the design and delivery of its Blue Star wave energy converters.

Trendsetter supplying Scarborough RWIS toolkit

Trendsetter Engineering announced Woodside Energy had contracted for the RWIS toolkit to support their Scarborough project offshore Australia.

The RWIS toolkit facilitates high rate kill requirements through a single relief well. It is placed on the seabed below the blowout preventers of a primary and secondary relief well drilling rig. In loss of well containment, this equipment assists with dynamic kill operations via a single relief well. The system allows for the supply of high mud pumping rates via a single relief well intercept that would otherwise require two or more relief wells minimum to achieve.

According to Trendsetter, the RWIS allows for drilling of prolific reservoirs that previously challenged the ability to provide a single relief well contingency.

"The RWIS has been designed and built to enable operators to stop a blowout from prolific reservoirs safely and efficiently via a single relief well by increasing the pump rate of kill mud into the blowing well,” said Brett Morry, product service line manager at Trendsetter Engineering.

Schlumberger’s ProcessOps for maximizing throughput 

Schlumberger launched ProcessOps on DELFI, which the company said maximizes throughput for the asset and reduces carbon intensity.

The collaborative, cloud-based solution creates a digital facility twin that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and automation with data and physics-based models to transform facilities workflows. 

“ProcessOps will optimize the way customers manage their facilities by simultaneously enhancing production and lowering the cost of operations,” said Steve Gassen, president, Production Systems, Schlumberger. “In addition to AI and automation capabilities that ensure equipment uptime and efficiency, the solution brings together the extensive knowledge and expertise required in facilities operations and management in a collaborative, digital environment.”

In ProcessOps, users can align their workflows to business key performance indicators; they can also optimize them using a combination of measured data and simulation outcomes. 

In the Middle East, automated workflows in ProcessOps diagnosed an issue with a damaged component on an electrostatic treater. The replacement component cost one dollar, but its failure could have damaged the treater, resulting in facility downtime and significant cost to repair or replace the process equipment.

Archer extends UK North Sea work

Archer won a five-year contract valued at $50 million to provide drilling operations and maintenance services for seven platforms in the U.K. North Sea for an unnamed operator.

Archer said the new contract will start November, directly continuing the current contract. The contract includes options for four additional years. The scope of work includes platform drilling operations and maintenance services, intervention support activities, well services, facilities engineering support and equipment rental.

NOV, Bardasz collaborate in real-time analytics agreement

NOV and Bardasz have entered an agreement to bring the latest Octopus suite of WITSML applications to NOV’s Max platform.

The deal combines NOV's sensor, data acquisition, and cloud technology with Bardasz WITSML and Energistics Transfer Protocol (ETP) technology to enable data aggregation and cloud data delivery.

According to Bardasz, the collaboration allows customers to perform true real-time analytics using high-frequency/low latency data from all equipment and service companies at the well site for better-informed operational decisions, increased efficiency and reduced risk.

ADC Energy to assess North American rigs

ADC Energy won a $1 million contract to deliver baseline condition assessments for five rigs for a North American company.

As part of the scope of work, ADC Energy will conduct baseline condition assessments of all five rigs, using historical data gathered from ADC’s prior experience related to rig design, original equipment manufacturer equipment and non-conformance trends to identify areas of potential risk to safety and performance. As each rig is bareboat chartered to various rig managers, ADC will conduct periodic performance assessments to ensure each unit is handed back to the owner in an operational condition.

The rigs include a sixth generation ultra-deepwater semi-submersible capable of operations in both harsh and benign environments, as well as four sixth generation ultra-deepwater drillships. 

Ikon updates RokDoc geoprediction software

IkonScience RokDoc
Ikon Science’s RokDoc Version 2022.4 automates QC and knowledge generation workflows. (Source: Ikon Science)

Ikon Science announced the release of geoprediction software RokDoc Version 2022.4, introducing new functionality and automating QC and knowledge generation workflows.

The quantitative analysis workflow used to characterize reservoirs is streamlined to speed up results, the company said. Additionally, it expands capabilities of the Multi-Well Wavelet toolkit to obtain more stable seismic wavelets.

The company also released the Rock Physics Machine Learning (RPML) tool, a technical collaboration with Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, as an addition to the Deep QI module. 

Regulatory updates

BSEE, LOSCO to coordinate oil spill planning

BSEE and the Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator’s Office (LOSCO) have signed an agreement strengthening their coordination on oil spill planning, preparedness and response offshore Louisiana. It replaces a memorandum of understanding from 1994.

Under the new agreement, the agencies will collaborate, when feasible, on research projects, mutual work objectives, workshops and conferences. They will also coordinate oversight and regulatory enforcement, as well as promote compliance with applicable regulations.