[Editor’s note: A version of this story appears in the February 2019 edition of E&P magazine. Subscribe to the magazine here.]

Evolving development economics in West Africa have breathed new life into a region that has seen declining production rates in recent years, yet still holds vast amounts of recoverable resources. According to Wood Mackenzie, Sub-Saharan Africa holds at least 23 Bbbl of oil and 1.5 Tcm (54 Tcf) of gas still left to be developed. As the company pointed out in a June 2018 report on the region, about half of that amount of future reserves lie in Angola and Nigeria.

In its 2017 annual report, Total reported that its production costs in Sub-Saharan Africa have fallen from $2.1 billion in 2014 to $1.3 billion in 2017, indicating more favorable economics are to be had in the region.

As a result of improving economics, Equatorial New Guinea is expecting market and project development this year through expected foreign direct investment with 11 new wells to be drilled. Exxon Mobil, Kosmos Energy, Marathon Oil and Noble Energy all hold greenfield prospects in the region that will be sites of new wells this year.

Meanwhile, in developments offshore Angola, Eni announced startup production from the Ochigufu Field early last year. The project added 24,000 bbl/d to the field’s current production levels, according to an Eni press release. The Ochigufu wells are connected subsea to the Sangos production system and are tied in to the N’Goma FPSO.


On July 27, 2018, Total announced it had begun production at Kaombo, the largest deepwater offshore development in Angola. The project is located in Block 32, 260 km (161 miles) off the coast of Luanda.

According to a Total press release, Kaombo Norte, the project’s first FPSO, will produce about 115,000 bbl/d, while Kaombo Sul, the second FPSO, is expected to begin production this year. Total reported that the overall Kaombo development is expected to reach peak production of about 230,000 bbl/d, while the associated gas will be exported to the Angola LNG plant.

Total’s Norte is Kaombo’s fi rst FPSO, which will produce about 115,000 bbl/d. (Source: ALP Marine Services for Total EP Angola Block 32)

According to Total, 59 wells will be connected to the two FPSOs developing from six fields: Gengibre, Gindungo, Caril, Canela, Mostarda and Louro over an area of 800 sq km (497 sq miles).

Total is the leading operator in Angola, having produced 229,000 boe/d in 2017. In addition to the Kaombo project, Total also operates Block 17 where a final investment decision (FID) was announced by the company in May 2018 for the Zinia 2 deepwater offshore development.

Zinia 2 is located 150 km (93 miles) offshore Angola and will have production capacity of 40,000 bbl/d from the Pazfl or Field, which has been in production since 2011.

Total stated in a release that Zinia 2 is the first of several possible short-cycle developments in Block 17 that will unlock the field’s full potential by connecting satellite reservoirs to the existing FPSO.

According to Total, Zinia 2 comprises nine wells in water depths ranging from 600 m to 1,200 m (1,968 ft to 3,937 ft).

In its report on West Africa, Wood Mackenzie stated that there could be at least a dozen “Zinia 2-like potential incremental developments” containing 1.4 Bbbl that could qualify for Angola’s marginal field terms. Those terms, according to Wood Mackenzie, require an internal rate of return of 15% for fields up to 300 MMbbl. According to Wood Mackenzie, Zinia 2 holds 80 MMbbl.

Total has at least two more Angolan projects in the works. According to the company, CLOV Phase 2 will require drilling seven additional wells with first oil expected in 2020 and peak production to reach 40,000 bbl/d. Meanwhile, Dalia Phase 3 will see six more wells drilled with first oil expected in 2021 and a production peak of 30,000 bbl/d.

Combined with Zinia 2, CLOV 2 and Dalia 3 will develop 150 MMbbl to maintain the Block 17 production plateau above 400,000 bbl/d until 2023, Total reported.

In March 2018, Total announced it had initiated production from the Moho Nord deep offshore project, 75 km (47 miles) offshore Pointe-Noire in the Republic of the Congo. According to Total, the project has a production capacity of 100,000 boe/d. Moho Nord produces from 34 wells and is tied back to a tension-leg platform and to Likouf, a new fl oating production unit.


Outside of Angola, Total has three additional projects in the works offshore Nigeria that it expects to move forward in the coming two years. According to the company, Owowo with 1 Bboe of resources might see an FID in 2020 with first oil planned for 2024. Total plans for 160,000 boe/d of production leveraging existing facilities in the field.

Bonga South West holds estimated resources of 600 MMboe and could see an FID by 2020. Total reports that first oil could be achieved there in 2024.

Total is also the operator for Preowi, with 100 MMboe of resources. The company reported that an FID is expected on the project by 2020, with first oil planned for 2022. The Preowi project will produce 70,000 boe/d leveraging the Egina FPSO. On Jan. 2, Total announced production had commenced on the Egina Field, which is located in about 1,600 m (5,250 ft) of water. According to the company, production from Egina is expected to reach 200,000 bbl/d.

Mauritania and Senegal

BP, in partnership with Kosmos Energy, awarded a FEED contract of the Tortue LNG development project offshore Mauritania and Senegal, which the company announced was nearly complete by year-end 2018. Meanwhile, on Dec. 21, BP and its partners announced the FID for Phase 1 of the development.

BP Upstream Chief Executive Bernard Looney stated in a press release that the FID represents the beginning of a multiphase project that is expected to deliver LNG revenues and gas to Africa and other regions for decades.

In February 2018, the governments of Mauritania and Senegal signed an inter-government cooperation agreement (ICA), which enabled the development of the project to move forward toward an FID. The ICA calls for a 50:50 initial split of resources and revenues between the two countries, as the Tortue Field straddles the border between Senegal and Mauritania.

The West Africa Tortue discovery was made by Kosmos in 2015, which later sold a 60% share and operating duties to BP. First gas on the Tortue project is expected in 2021. According to BP, the Tortue gas field holds an estimated 425 Bcm (15 Tcf) of gas.


In January 2018 Exxon Mobil announced it had signed a petroleum agreement with the government of Ghana to acquire E&P rights for the Deepwater Cape Three Points Block. According to Exxon Mobil, acquisition of seismic data and analysis commenced last year. The Deepwater Cape Three Points Block, located 92 km (57 miles) offshore Ghana, measures about 1,482 sq km (572 sq miles), or 366,000 acres, in water depths ranging from 1,550 m to 2,850 m (5,085 ft to 9,350 ft).

Exxon Mobil will be the operator on the project with 80% interest, according to the company, with Ghana National Petroleum Corp. holding 15% interest.

In its 2017 Annual Report, Nigeria’s Department of Petroleum Resources listed deepwater and ultradeepwater greenfield projects in the definition stage by Exxon Mobil. The ultradeepwater Nsiko Field in Block 140 is expected to produce at 100,000 bbl/d. Bosi in Block 133 will produce at 140,000 bbl/d, Uge in Block 140 will produce at 110,000 bbl/d and other satellite fields in Block 70 will add 80,000 bbl/d of production to the region.