29 January

Husky Energy gains regulatory clearance to restart SeaRose operations

Husky Energy is set to resume operations at its SeaRose project off the coast of eastern Canada after receiving clearance from regulators. Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) has revoked the notice issued to Husky Energy earlier this month to suspend operations for the SeaRose floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel and associated facilities.

The notice was issued after it was adjudged that Husky Energy had failed to meet regulations relating to its ice management plan by not disconnecting the vessel and sailing away when an iceberg entered its quarter-mile exclusion zone in March 2017.

Husky Energy CEO Rob Peabody said: “We could have and should have responded differently according to the pre-existing plan, and have learned from this incident. We will apply these lessons and share the learnings broadly in the region and across the company. The safety of our people and the protection of the environment is our first priority and in this case we let ourselves down.”

In response to the incident and simultaneously with the C-NLOPB, Husky Energy carried out a review of its ice management and emergency response plans, in addition to implementing further improvements.

Under the emergency response plan, SeaRose FPSO must be disconnected if an iceberg enters the 0.25nm ice exclusion area. Furthermore, Husky completed an emergency response drill, under the supervision of the C-NLOPB, industry partners and the offshore facilities certifying authority. Before operations were suspended, the SeaRose FPSO was producing around 27,000bpd of oil.

29 January

Blackstone and Blue Water Energy to invest $1bn in Mime Petroleum

Private equity firms Blackstone Energy Partners and Blue Water Energy (BWE) have reached an agreement to invest up to $1bn in Mime Petroleum, a newly formed development and production company.

Founded last year by BWE, Mime Petroleum is mainly focused on strengthening position in existing fields and licences on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS). The company’s working model will include the acquisition of assets on the NCS, in addition to pursuing production optimisation, developments, and near-field exploration opportunities.

Mime Petroleum chairman and CEO Sverre Skogen said: “Whilst Blue Water Energy has provided strong strategic and financial support to date, this is now significantly enhanced in combination with Blackstone. There are a lot of high-quality opportunities on the NCS, and, with two of the foremost energy investors behind us, we are well-positioned to take advantage of these.”

Mime Petroleum is planning to develop a sustainable business on the NCS by investing in viable development projects and fields in production, as well as enhancing the recovery of fields supporting infill drilling programmes and IOR initiatives. In addition, the company intends to achieve maturation of near-field prospects in order to extend the lifetime and estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) of fields.

Blackstone Energy Partners senior managing director Mustafa Siddiqui said: “With $15bn of capital invested in the energy sector, we continue our track record of supporting top management teams with the growth capital and resources to build energy industry champions.”

26 January

Total to gain interest in Gulf of Mexico’s Anchor discovery

Total has signed a deal to buy Samson Offshore Anchor from Samson for an undisclosed amount. Samson Offshore Anchor has a 12.5% interest in four blocks covering the Anchor field, which is a significant discovery in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM), US. The agreement also covers a 12.5% stake in the nearby Green Canyon 761 exploration block, in which Total currently holds a 25% stake.

Total exploration and production president Arnaud Breuillac said: “The entry in the Anchor discovery further increases Total’s footprint in deepwater Gulf of Mexico. It follows our entry in seven exploration prospects located in the promising Wilcox (central GoM) and Norphlet (eastern GoM) plays thanks to an agreement signed with Chevron last September, and in the Jack field where the group will acquire a 25% interest as part of the Maersk Oil deal.”

Anchor was discovered in the Wilcox play in 2014 and is located 225km offshore Louisiana at depths of more than 1,500m. The company noted that the identification of additional prospective resources in the Anchor vicinity further strengthens the potential of the asset. Other stakeholders in the Anchor discovery include Chevron, Cobalt, and Venari.

In the Gulf of Mexico, Total is focused on two producing fields, the Chevron-operated Tahiti with a 17% interest, and Petrobras-operated Chinook with 33.33%. Additionally, the company is engaged in the discovery of North Platte with 40% interest.

25 January

UAE’s NPCC wins EPC contract for ONGC’s offshore field in India

UAE-based National Petroleum Construction Company (NPCC) has secured a AED1.2bn ($327m) engineering, procurement, construction (EPC) contract from ONGC for Ratna offshore field in India. The contract covers five well platforms and a pipeline, and is part of offshore oil and gas infrastructure development on the west coast of India. Founded in 1973, NPCC provides engineering, procurement, construction, installation and commissioning services to offshore and onshore oil and gas sectors.

NPCC chairman Hussain Al Nowais said: “This contract is an endorsement of NPCC’s international capabilities. I am proud of the NPCC’s relationship with ONGC and it is a testament of the good relations and economic cooperation between UAE and India, under the able guidance of the leadership of two countries.”

The contract includes survey, design, engineering, procurement, fabrication, loadout, transportation, installation and commissioning of five well platforms (R12B-R10A-R9A-R7A-R13A), as well as associated pipelines and cables.

NPCC vice-chairman and managing director Aqeel Madhi said: “We have been working on offshore EPC projects for ONGC for over 35 years and are proud of our association with ONGC.”

With engineering centres in Abu Dhabi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and La Ciotat, the company is engaged in providing a full range of engineering solutions covering all disciplines. Furthermore, the company owns a fleet of 22 offshore vessels that support its offshore operations. NPCC also has fabrication facilities in Abu Dhabi spanning 1.3 million square meters.

23 January

LLOG Exploration partners begin drilling at Buckskin project, Gulf of Mexico

LLOG Exploration Company (LLOG) has started development drilling operations at the Buckskin project in the Gulf of Mexico’s deepwater. The deepwater development project has been delineated by multiple prior wells, and is located on Keathley Canyon blocks 785, 828, 829, 830, 871 and 872 in around 6,800ft of water.

The project’s initial phase is expected to comprise two development wells in Keathley Canyon 829 and a six-mile subsea tieback to the Lucius platform at Keathley Canyon 875. Once drilling and completion of the initial two wells has been performed, the partners will undertake installation of subsea facilities. The wells will be drilled to depths of approximately 29,000ft.

LLOG president and CEO Scott Gutterman said: “The start of drilling at Buckskin is a significant milestone for LLOG, given the size of the field and the fact that it is our first development in the Lower Tertiary trend. We are looking forward to successful completion of the project and are excited about the potential of Buckskin and other opportunities in the Lower Tertiary.”

The field is estimated to contain nearly five billion barrels of oil in-place, with the first production scheduled for mid-2019. Upon completion of the initial phase, the partners intend to consider additional wells and subsea facilities in an effort to fully develop the field, which is operated by LLOG Exploration Offshore.

Affiliates of LLOG – Buckstone Development Company and LLOG Deepwater Development Company I hold a 33.8% working interest in the Buckskin development. Other stakeholders in the project include Repsol E&P USA, Beacon Offshore Energy Buckskin, Navitas Buckskin US and two entities managed by Ridgewood Energy.

19 January

Shearwater signs seismic survey contract in Myanmar

Shearwater GeoServices has secured a 10,000km² marine seismic acquisition services contract for Total and Eni’s 2018 exploration programme located nearly 300km offshore Myanmar. The survey will include two offshore blocks YWB and MD-04 operated by Total and Eni respectively. As part of the contract, Shearwater will deploy ‘Polar Empress’ vessel to carry out the survey work. Built in 2015, the vessel has a capacity of up to 22 streamers. The survey is scheduled to start this month and is expected to take around six months.

Shearwater GeoServices CEO Irene Waage Basili said: “We are pleased to be awarded this significant contract with two oil majors known for their high HSE and quality standards and requirements for leading operational performance.

“Shearwater has undertaken a significant effort since its inception to pre-qualify for work with major oil companies. We see this recent award as a validation of that strategy, and appreciate the positive engagement of our clients to achieve this.”

This contract represents the second recent significant contract award to Shearwater. In November last year, the company was contracted by an NOC for a five to six months period, under which it started mobilising the vessels ‘Polar Duchess’ and ‘Polar Marquis’ last month.

Basili added: “The seismic market remains challenging, but on the back of a solid operational performance in 2017 in combination with recently awarded contracts, Shearwater is well-positioned through the winter season and for 2018 as a whole.”
Jointly owned by GC Rieber Shipping and Rasmussengruppen, Shearwater provides marine geophysical services and owns a fleet of four modern seismic vessels.

17 January

Norway grants 75 offshore exploration licences

Norway has granted 75 new offshore exploration licenses, Aker BP, Statoil, Shell, Total are among several companies that have recently secured some of the licenses. Of the 75 licenses granted, 45 are in the North Sea, 22 in the Norwegian Sea and eight in the Barents Sea. This is the highest number of licenses ever granted by Norway under the annual predefined areas (APA) licensing round. Launched in 2003, APA licensing rounds are intended to boost exploration and development of discoveries near those existing fields with infrastructure facilities.

Norway Energy Minister Terje Soeviknes was quoted by Reuters as saying: “The number of licences is the highest ever awarded in a licensing round on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. Access to new, prospective exploration acreage is a central pillar in the government’s petroleum policy.”

Environmentalists have been critical of the exploration rights in Barents Sea through APA rounds. They claim that shifting into a significantly unexplored area with just two fields defeats the actual purpose of the APA rounds – which is to boost production.

A total of 34 firms have secured the 75 licenses and of these, 19 firms have won the right to lead projects. 39 companies applied for the exploration licenses this year, which is an increase from 33 in 2017, when 56 exploration licenses were granted. This year, Statoil topped the list with 31 licenses, followed by Aker BP with 23. Statoil will be the lead operator in 17 blocks while Aker BP in 14 areas. Total, Shell, Lundin Petroleum also secured areas in the latest round.

17 January

BP to assume additional $1.7bn charge for Deepwater Horizon disaster

BP is set to assume a further $1.7bn post-tax impairment charge on expenses for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which will take the total cost of the disaster borne by the company to more than $65bn. The charge will be included in the company’s fourth-quarter report. This spill continues to affect the company even after eight years. The settlement claims so far have cost the company around seven times more than its original estimation.

Nearly 400,000 cases were filed by businesses against the company. Of these, several hundred claims are yet to be closed, thereby increasing the chances of expenses growing further than anticipated. The court has reviewed over 99% of the cases, some of which, according to the company, are false.

Last September, the firm paid around $63.4bn as clean-up costs and legal fees. The incident had killed 11 rig workers and spilled millions of barrels of oil into the sea. In 2015, the company had come to a $19bn settlement for federal and state claims. In 2016, BP assumed a $2.5bn charge after settling several claims.

The London-based company’s chief financial officer was quoted by Reuters as saying that “with the claims facility’s work very nearly done, we now have better visibility into the remaining liability.”

Due to the latest charge, BP’s cash payments could touch $3bn this year compared with the earlier estimate of $2bn. This charge would cover payouts to businesses affected by the spill. The payments in 2017 stood at around $5.5bn. Even though the settlements of claims have been higher than anticipated, BP expects these to be manageable due to revenue increase as a result of steady growth in oil prices.

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