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Can bpTT hit big oil again?

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Can bpTT once again become a major oil producer in T&T? This a distinct possibility as the company has used new technology to identify significant prospects deep below the Teak/ Samaan/ Poui (TSP) acreage.

At its recent Open House, bpTT revealed that its Ocean Bottom Node seismic technology has identified exciting prospects in the deep waters below TSP.

Ocean bottom nodes (OBN) are relatively new type of seismic systems which are free positioned on the ocean floor. OBN plays a significant role in scientific observation in special areas where steamers cannot be or cannot stay for a long time. Importantly, seismic data recorded by ocean bottom acquisition is usually much cleaner than surface acquisition.

This could be great news for T&T should the oil and gas major be successful. The TSP fields were discovered between 1968 and 1972 and were producing by 1974. They had a peak production of 144,000 barrels a day and have so far produced more than 1 billion barrels of light sweet crude oil.

In 2005, bpTT reached agreement for the sale of TSP to Perenco and Massy Energy for US$239 million. The sale was conditional on whether Repsol YPF, a shareholder in bpTT, exercised its pre-emption right to purchase the TSP assets. Repsol exercised its right and the Government of T&T had 60 days to exercise its option to purchase up to 15 per cent equity holding in the TSP assets. Petrotrin was vested the 15 per cent which it then sold it to the NGC.

Even at the point of the sale in 2004, bpTT was convinced there were more hydrocarbons to be found in the deep waters and kept ownership of it as a condition of the sale. With the new seismic system, it appears they are even more convinced of that theory.

In an emailed response to questions, bpTT said it recognises the potential for oil and gas in the deep waters of TSP.

“Improved quality seismic helps to improve our understanding and confidence levels on whether we think there are hydrocarbons present. This increases the likelihood that we will be competitive in sourcing funds to drill the prospect,” the company said.

“Even with increased confidence, there remains the risk that we do not encounter either any, or sufficient amounts of hydrocarbons. bpTT recognises the potential for both oil and gas in the TSP deep acreage.

However, our current focus is on a deeper understanding of the acreage.”

Local geologists appear mixed on the possible success of this new approach. While many say bpTT’s approach has a very good chance of success, Dr Krishna Persad said he would be shocked if it finds oil in the deep waters.

He said bpTT would have to show him a working system below the existing TSP field for him to believe it. He said the company would have gone through the gas, condensate and black oil already and unless there is a separate system, he does not believe bpTT will be successful.

Sources at bpTT said they are confident and expect the prospects will be drilled within three to five years.

While that may seem far away, the company has several drilling programmes, including two prospects next year and wells to bring on in fields like Angelin, so it has to plan and get the wells sanctioned globally.

“We are actively assessing the TSP area’s prospectivity, competitiveness and its fit within our exploration portfolio. When this exercise is completed, we will be better able to provide a timeline for the drilling of the prospects in the TSP acreage,” bpTT said.

While bpTT produces more than half of the country’s natural gas it is also a major contributor to the country’s 67,000 barrels of oil a day, and is responsible for close to 12 per cent of total oil production.


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