Elaine Reynolds
26 September 2017

Fatala well latest disappointment offshore West Africa

Results from Hyperdynamics’ Fatala-1 are the latest in a number of disappointing wells drilled offshore West Africa. It joins Ophir’s Ayame-1X well in Cote d’Ivoire and ExxonMobil’s Liberian well Mesurado-1 as highly anticipated exploration wells that have failed to deliver over the last year in an effort to extend the successes seen in Mauritania, Senegal and Ghana.

Fatala-1 was only the third well drilled offshore Guinea, so the region remains highly underexplored. The well was targeting the centre of a Cenomanian fan feature and to tag the edges of two of the further three fans seen in the prospect. It encountered a 75m thick Cenomanian sedimentary sequence, but this mainly consisted of siltstone and clays and no hydrocarbons were detected. Hyperdynamics have however identified a five metre sand on the edge of a channel sitting above the main target, and on this basis believes it has made a discovery with potentially exploitable resources and has requested a two year appraisal period from the Guinea government. Partner South Atlantic Petroleum (SAPetro) doesn’t agree and has announced it will withdraw from the partnership, returning its 50% interest to Hyperdynamics at no cost.

Any impact on sentiment in the region will be gauged from interest seen in Guinea’s upcoming first offshore round due to be launched in October this year. Twenty blocks are on offer, representing a huge increase in available acreage with only two offshore blocks awarded (both to Hyperdynamics) to date.

More broadly, recent exploration drilling between the SNE field offshore Senegal and the Anadarko discoveries in the eastern region of the Tano-Ivorian basin to the west of Jubilee have been unable to build on these successes. Ophir’s Ayame-1X well in the western Tano-Ivorian basin offshore Cote d’Ivoire encountered oil shows in the targeted reservoir but these were deemed to be non-commercial. The potential for traps updip of Ayame is now being investigated by Ophir and partner African Petroleum. This brings the number of wells drilled in the western part of the basin to nine, with only Total’s 2014 Saphir-1X well being successful. A licence round is also planned soon in Cote d’Ivoire, with 34 vacant offshore blocks on offer and a submission deadline expected in H1 2018.

In Liberia, ExxonMobil’s Mesurado-1 well failed to find hydrocarbons when it was drilled in December 2016, although 118m of reservoir quality sands were encountered. Partner Canadian Overseas Petroleum(COPL) has concluded from well post analysis that it is not possible to differentiate fluid type from the seismic expression, since the response in Mesurado looked identical to that seen in successful wells elsewhere in West Africa. The ExxonMobil/COPL PSC for Block LB-13 terminated on 25th September, however COPL has indicated that it still sees potential within the block and as such intends to approach the Government of Liberia with a view to entering into a new contract.

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