Noble continue to reap rewards from West African gas

Noble Energy began their work in the Republic of Equatorial Guinea as a non-operating partner in the Alba field in the early '90s.

In 2005, Noble made their first operated discovery in the Alen field, located in the Douala Basin offshore Equatorial Guinea. That was primarily a DHI driven play looking for the amplitude anomalies on the seismic. They drilled seven successful exploration wells. Some of them were non-commercial, some have yet to be commercialised. Two of them have been commercialised at the Aseng field, which is another liquids-rich gas play.

In 2011 they brought Aseng, the first floating storage and offloading vessel (FPSO) in the Douala Basin, online quickly followed in 2013 by the Alen platform, a condensate recovery and gas re-injection facility. The gas reinjection system minimises the need for flaring and maximises condensate production from the reservoir.

Aseng is an oil leg under gas and Alen is a liquids-rich gas play that partially share a facility. Aseng field has a platform. It is a deepwater field, but the eastern end is in relatively shallow water so Noble set a platform out there. This incorporated compressors to dry out the gas; the condensate and other liquids are stripped out and the dry gas is reinjected.

That has been on production for eight years. The liquids from that production travel by a pipeline that connects it over to the Aseng field. There is a FPSO anchored in deep water above the Aseng field. There Noble produce the oil and re-inject the gas and take the condensate from Aseng over to the FPSO where it's then loaded and sold.

Other developments

There are other fields in the area that if oil prices and the economic terms get attractive, Noble plan to develop. For now, their big focus is on monetising gas because they have probably about three and a half GCF of gas discovered already in the Yoyo-Yolanda field and in the gas caps, the re-injected gas in Alen and then the gas cap in Aseng along with some other gas discoveries in the area. They’re working with the two governments. The Yoyo-Yolanda extends across the border between Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, and Noble are working with the governments to unitise that across the two borders. They have recently signed a MOU with the EG Government to take Aseng gas to the LNG plant that is run by Marathon.

More gas

Once the gas market in the region becomes more established there are a lot of prospects out there that will start to get developed. These prospects are relatively small so moving forward, additional exploration requires there be a ready gas market, otherwise it’s not a sensible investment at this point.

The feeling amongst operators in the West Africa region is that governments are becoming more realistic, but it remains a balance between how much investment they want to attract with their terms against how much are they willing to wait for a day when oil prices are higher.

Africa Oil Week Newsletter

Stay connected with our global oil, gas and energy community.
Register for AOW news.