Noble Venturer drillship; Source: Noble Corporation

Noble drillship put in charge of previously interrupted drilling campaign offshore Africa

Oil and gas company Trident Energy, on behalf of its joint venture (JV) partners, has decided to resume its infill drilling campaign on Block G offshore Equatorial Guinea, located on the west coast of Central Africa, with a drillship owned by Noble Corporation. This drilling program was put on hold after the rig contract with Norway’s Island Drilling was terminated, citing safety concerns.

Noble Venturer drillship; Source: Noble Corporation

Originally, Trident, as the operator of Block G, hired the Island Innovator rig in September 2022 for two firm and five optional wells in Equatorial Guinea and exercised two of these options for development drilling and workover in July 2023. The rig’s backlog was extended further in September 2023 after Trident exercised one more option on behalf of another operator in Equatorial Guinea. 

The 2012-built semi-submersible started the planned three-well infill drilling campaign at Block G in January 2024, however, the rig contract was broken off the following month per Trident’s recommendation. That same month, the Norwegian offshore rig operator said it was evaluating all legal recourse at its disposal to contest the termination of the rig contract and adamantly denied safety concerns, which Trident used as a reason to end the rig’s assignment.

At the time, Trident was also looking into alternative options for the restart and completion of the drilling campaign, including the Kosmos-operated Akeng Deep exploration well at the earliest opportunity, potentially targeting the resumption of drilling activities during 2Q 2024, subject to rig availability and terms of alternative options.

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Following the evaluation of available options, the operator of Block G has now secured a rig to recommence the drilling campaign offshore Equatorial Guinea, thanks to a deal with Noble Corporation for the Noble Venturer drillship, which will restart infill drilling at the Ceiba and Okume Complex fields in shallow and deep water in the Rio Muni basin. Trident Energy (40.375%) is the operator of Block G while its partners are Kosmos Energy (40.375%), Panoro Energy (14.25%), and GEPetrol (5%).

The 2014-built Noble Venturer drillship is engaged in a drilling campaign offshore Ghana, which is expected to end in late May 2014, after which it will relocate to Equatorial Guinea to kick off drilling operations in June. According to Panoro, the drilling campaign will now comprise two infill wells due to limitations arising from the shallower water depth at one of the planned infill well locations. The third infill well will be deferred as part of a potential future drilling campaign.  

Furthermore, this drillship has also been contracted to drill the Kosmos Energy-operated Akeng Deep infrastructure-led exploration (ILX) well in Block S once the two Block G infill wells have been drilled and completed.

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John Hamilton, CEO of Panoro, commented: “We are very pleased to have secured the high-specification Noble Venturer drillship to recommence the infill drilling campaign at Block G and also test the high-impact Akeng Deep ILX prospect at Block S which, if successful, can open a new play fairway with potentially very positive read across to the adjacent Block EG-01 which Panoro operates.”

Targeting an estimated gross mean resource of around 180 million barrels of oil close to existing infrastructure at Block G, the Akeng Deep ILX well is intended to test a play in the Albian. Panoro holds a 12% interest in Kosmos’ Block S and other partners are GEPetrol and Trident Energy.