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Touchstone’s Cascadura well in the Ortoire Block which may be one of T&T’s largest onshore gas reservoirs. Image courtesy Xavier Moonan.

T&T remains a major oil and gas province with crude production expected to ramp up in the next three years to close to 100,000 barrels of oil per day and natural gas to increase by almost one billion standard cubic feet per day (bscf/d) from under 3 (bscf/d) to closer to 3.8 bscf/d.

This was the optimistic tone from the oil and gas operators in T&T all of whom talked about significant activity ongoing and the ability to deliver more hydrocarbons into the system.

Globally there is a rush to produce hydrocarbons and sell them before the energy transition to renewables render them of little value and this did not seem lost on the operators who gave updates on their plans at the annual T&T Energy conference.

State-owned Heritage Petroleum is expected to grow its oil production by 80 per cent, Royal Dutch Shell will bring on 450 million standard cubic feet of natural gas, Touchstone to produce 200 mmscf/d from its Cascadura discoveries, BPTT promised to return closer to the two billion cubic feet next year and BHP to increase oil production from its Ruby field by the end of the year.

Heritage Petroleum’s offshore leader Richard Burgess said the company is committed to maximising production from its fields as quickly as possible.

“We will aggressively go after some new oil developments and progress oil reserves from various stages; from contingent and probable to proven and more importantly into the tank. Because we are, unless otherwise told, an oil company and our mandate is simple, get it out of the ground and monetise it while it still has value,” Burgess told the conference.

He said on land Heritage will return to drilling, which it had stopped for a while because of a few failed wells.

According to Burgess the company took some time to ensure it got the sub-surface right before it proceeded.

Even while it was not drilling it was able to grow production on land by seven per cent by taking action to bring back into production some idle wells and has now hit the 11,000 bo/d mark.

“We were able to claw back some of the production by getting after inactive wells, well servicing, fixing lines, debottleneck the networks and so on, and bring production from the existing well stock that’s been idle back into the system…for a fraction of the cost of what it would take to drill for those barrels we have been able to reclaim a significant amount of oil,” said Burgess.

Apart from drilling wells the company plans to also use Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) methods like steam flooding.

He also announced plans to drill into its East field.

“This East Field drilling, we are very excited about this, there are a couple of very prolific wells in this area, and what we noticed when the sub-surface team started to take a lot, we found that the better part or area in terms of sand quality and fitness and so on, is the part that was not significantly exploited. So there is significant opportunity to develop some of these areas and reservoirs, so we gonna get after that.”

He said by November the first well in the East Block will be drilled in parallel with a broader field development look that is being pursued by the sub-surface team.

The well is expected to derisk other opportunities in the East Block. The seismic across the field is also being reprocessed to help determine the field limit and deep plays and is likely to generate a significant drilling programme.

On the issue of the company’s heavy oil asset Burgess assured that moves remain afoot to develop it.

He said the RFP for the estimated 1.7 billion barrel heavy oil jubilee field has been delayed by Covid-19 because of the inability to allow for field visits, but Heritage is still hoping it could make a decision on a partner by the end of 2021.

“This is a very promising prospect. We think it holds quite a bit of hydrocarbons and we expect to see some really good proposals come out of this effort and we hope to have a partner chosen before the end of the year,” Burgess told the conference.

With respect to SW Soldado he said the introduction of the MoPU ensured that there was gas compression that allowed for an increase in the lifting of the oil and this had meant a more than doubling of the production from the field.

Burgess explained: “From the existing wellstock we have been able to take that production from 2200 bo/d to no less than 5300 bo/d without drilling for any new oil.”

He said even without drilling additional opportunities Heritage can increase production by improved facilities and infrastructure and in SW Soldado alone it believes the sustained production without any new oil is 7,000 bo/d.

One of the advantages of the EOG JV Burgess noted is that it will lead to the reprocessing of the SW Soldado seismic and he expects it will result in additional opportunities.

Shell’s general manager, upstream assets Ronald Adams assured that the company would be able to increase production come the middle of 2022.

“Projects currently in the pipeline and those in various stages of our strategic growth portfolio will help us to meet our contractual obligations and solve some of the challenges faced by the sector,” Adams told the conference.

Barracuda and Colibri will provide gas to LNG and petrochemicals and add 450 million standard cubic feet per day.

He also announced the Shell is to resume its search for new hydrocarbons.

“We are thrilled to begin drilling on to exploration wells in the East Coast Marine Area (ECMA) beginning in Q3 with NFE1 and then in Q4 with NFE2. Our rig is already in country. This will be the first time in approximately five years that we will be doing true exploration wells in ECMA and our teams are working diligently to get this programme on the way.

“The success of NFE 1 will be a significant contributor to Shell’s short term strategy. NFE 2 could potentially open up a concept for further exploration in the wider area beyond its current acreage position,” Adams argued.

While Touchstone may be a smaller outfit it has been the taste of many of the smaller producers as it has found significant gas in its Ortoire Block.

Its CEO Paul Bay said in the next two years Touchstone expects to be producing up to 200 mmscf/d from its present discoveries and close to 4,000 barrels of liquids.

“We think over the next two years there are probably 200 mmscf/d that we will be pulling out of Ortoire and somewhere around 3,000 to 4,000 per day of liquids…and this does not include any of the exploration we have.” Bay noted.

He added: “The first two wells we estimate bringing on about 90mmscf/d. We hope to have them on, subject to the final environmental approval, the end of this year, Q1 next year, and then you see there are three additional locations each which will have two to four additional wells. So you will probably see six to eight developmental wells from Cascadura.”

Touchstone will also drill a well targeting the elusive cretaceous rocks and has already brought in a rig to see if it can find what Exxon failed to do, the rocks, a trap and a reservoir.

“It is going to be further defined by a 21km seismic programme that should be done by the end of July. We will hopefully drill that Cracken well in 2022.

“In order to do that we are bringing a new rig into the country that will be capable of going to about 15,000 feet which is the depth of Cracken. But what I think is it is really important as that prospect could really open up a new play type, not only for us but for all of T&T,” Bay noted.