Tying Back and Shoring Up

Floating development has become the system of choice for most offshore developments throughout Africa due to the absence of pipelines, favorable ocean conditions, advancements in subsea technologies and the heightened flexibility offered by floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels. FPSO units also provide a cost-effective and viable alternative by circumventing development challenges including site accessibility, decommissioning of structures and environmental factors associated with fixed onshore infrastructures. Moreover, the ability to convert existing oil tankers into FPSO units eliminates significant capital expenditure for newly built units, leading the global FPSO market to hold an estimated value of over $30 billion by 2025. Angola is no exception: as the country strives to offset declining production of maturing fields, recent discoveries and subsea tie-backs have been made possible by the sixteen FPSO vessels operating in-country.

The Kaombo Development
Kaombo Norte and Kaombo Sul FPSOs

In April 2019, Kaombo Sul came on stream, the second FPSO unit of Total’s ultra-deepwater Kaombo project in Block 32, located 260 kilometers off the coast of Luanda at water depths ranging from1,400 to 2,000 meters. This came eight months after production began at Kaombo Norte. Kaombo Sul will contribute 115,000 barrels per day (bpd), totaling combined production capacity between the two units to 230,000 bpd, equivalent to 15% of the country’s total production. Associated gas from Kaombo Sul will be exported to the Angola LNG plant. In addition to the magnitude of its contributions to domestic production, the Kaombo development is significant due to its contributions to local content, setting an in-country record with 20% of its 110 million project hours worked locally.

The Kaombo development consists of six fields comprising a large subsea system of 800 square kilometers. Gengibre, Gindungo and Caril fields are connected to Kaombo Norte, while Mostarda, Canela and Louro fields are now been connected to Kaombo Sul. The development consists of 59 wells – 60% of which are already drilled – and two FPSO units converted from Very Large Crude Carriers. Total operates Block 32 with a 30% participating interest, along with Sonangol P&P (30%), Sonangol Sinopec International 32 Limited (20%), Esso Exploration & Production Angola Limited (15%) and Galp Energia Overseas Block 32 B.V. (5%). Following the final investment decision by Total in April 2014, Italian oil and gas contractor Saipem was awarded the $4 billion contract for the conversion and delivery of the two FPSO units for the Kaombo project, as well as was responsible for the FPSO hook-up and mooring activities.

Zinia 2, Clov 2 and Dalia 3
Pazflor FPSO

In addition to Block 32, Total operates and owns 40% of Block 17, in which investment decisions were made in 2018 to bring three new satellite projects online: Zinia 2, Clov 2, and Dalia 3. In a bid to sustain production processed through the Pazflor FPSO, the deepwater Zinia 2 project targets satellite resources through a combination of nine producer and water injection wells that will be tied back to the vessel. The project is projected to have a development cost of $1.2 billion and carry a 40,000 bpd peak production rate. While the project was approved in May 2018, it will require less time to complete than a Greenfield project, as it leverages existing offshore infrastructure, thereby reducing development time. Following the drilling of seven additional wells, the Clov phase 2 project was initially expected to bear first oil in 2020, with a production plateau of 40,000 bpd. The Dalia phase 3 project, which includes the drilling of six additional wells, will carry a production plateau of 30,000 bpd, producing first oil in 2021. However, with current budgetary pressure placed on exploration investment due to COVID-19, Total is currently postponing the development of its satellite resources. Nevertheless, the three resources have the combined potential to contribute 150 million barrels of additional resources to maintain production on the block above 400,000 bpd until 2023, with the block having already produced over 2.6 billion barrels.

The Vandumbu Field
N’Goma FPSO

Eni launched the start-up of the VAN-102 water injection well in January 2019. Tied back to the existing N’Goma FPSO, VAN-102 achieved a performance of approximately 13,000 barrels and represents an important progression in the development of the Vandumbu field, which was brought online in November 2018 three months ahead of schedule. Combined with the start-up in another production well in the Mpungi field, the well brings the production of Block 15/06 to a total of approximately 170,000 bpd.

Deep offshore Block 15/06 saw five light oil discoveries by Eni in 2019, since the re-launch of the block’s exploration campaign in 2018. The five discoveries are estimated to contain up to a total of 1.8 billion barrels, with the largest discovery made in March 2019 after drilling the Aogog-1 NFW well. Nine months after its discovery, the Agogo field came online via a subsea tieback to N’Goma FPSO, producing 10,000 bpd. Most recently, the company struck oil again with the Ndungu prospect in Angola’s deep offshore in June 2019, estimated to contain up to 250 million barrels of light oil, with production capacity above 10,000 bpd. Located approximately 350 km northwest of Luanda, Block 15/06 involves operations in eight fields through 42 wells starting in November 2014 with the production of the Sangos field. The block is developed by a joint venture formed by Eni as operator (36.84%), Sonangol P&P (36.84%) and SSI Fifteen Limited (26.32%), with Eni spearheading its strategy of phased and clustered development.

The Platina Field
Greater Plutonio FPSO

In December 2018, Sonangol and BP signed two agreements that allow for the development of the deepwater Platina field and extension of oil exploration in BP-operated Block 18. The agreement to extend the production license in the Greater Plutonio project in the block until 2032 will give Sonangol P&P an 8% stake in the block, which currently only has BP and Sonangol Sinopec International Limited as shareholders, with 50% each.

Discovered in 1999, the Platina field is located at a depth of approximately 1,300 meters, and was brought into production through a subsea tie-back to the existing Greater Plutonio FPSO vessel, which began production in 2007. First oil from the field is expected in late 2021 or early 2022. The Platina project will be the first new development operated by BP Angola since the PVSM project (Plutao, Saturno, Venus and Marte) in Block 31 in 2013, which produces 110,000 bpd. Encompassing an area of 5,000 square kilometers at depths ranging from 1200 to 1600 meters, the Greater Plutonio development was the first BP-operated asset in Angola and consists of five fields: Gálio, Crómio, Cobalto, Paládio and Plutónio. Production began in October 2007 and also supplies natural gas to the Angola LNG processing plant in Soyo.

This article will be published in the Africa Energy Series: Angola 2020 Report, which will be launched soon.

This article will be published in the Africa Energy Series: Angola 2020 Report

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