USA: Cobalt Excited About Return to Gulf Drilling
Cobalt International Energy, Inc. announced today that the Ensco 8503 drilling rig, contracted to Cobalt, has returned to the U.S. Gulf of Mexico following a sublet of the rig to drill a well in French Guiana. Cobalt received the required U.S. Coast Guard Certificate of Compliance and has subsequently received APD approval from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) for the Ligurian #2 exploratory well.
The company expects to spud Ligurian #2 by year end. Ligurian is located in the Southern Green Canyon Area immediately adjacent to the 2009 Heidelberg discovery in which Cobalt is a part owner. After drilling Ligurian #2, Cobalt plans to move the rig to the North Platte #1 well location in the Garden Banks Area to drill that prospect. Cobalt anticipates that each of the Ligurian #2 and North Platte #1 exploratory wells will take approximately six months to drill.
“Obtaining the approved APD for Ligurian #2 represents another significant milestone for Cobalt”, said Van P. Whitfield, Cobalt’s Chief Operating Officer. “Ligurian #2 will be our first company-operated well drilled in the Gulf of Mexico since the deepwater drilling moratorium was enforced in May 2010. We are definitely excited about our return to drilling and are confident in our ability to drill this well safely. Additionally, we look forward to obtaining the additional permits required to drill and evaluate the multiple other significant world class prospects we have in our Gulf of Mexico portfolio.”
Cobalt is the operator of the Ligurian #2 well located in Green Canyon Block 814, with a 45% working interest. Other working interest owners include TOTAL E&P USA, INC. with a 30% working interest and Sonangol Exploration & Production International, Ltd. with a 25% working interest.
2012 Cash Expenditure Forecast
Cobalt also announced that its 2012 cash expenditures will be $500-$550 million. This range is consistent with previous guidance for 2011-13 cash expenditures of $1.3-$1.4 billion and compares with $170-$190 million recently estimated for 2011. The increased cash expenditures for 2012 relative to 2011 anticipates increased U.S. Gulf of Mexico and offshore Angola drilling activity and the payment of the first social bonus contribution associated with Angola Block 20. Cobalt’s net expenditures for 2012 exploration and appraisal drilling are forecasted at $250-$300 million. Each range of cash expenditures excludes changes to restricted cash items such as escrow agreements and collateralized letters of credit.
Offshore Energy Today Staff, December 22, 2011; Image: Keppel