Dr Keith Rowley---use

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley

THE drilling of Trinidad and Tobago’s deepest deepwater well, executed by BHP Billiton, is under way.

The well is called the Broadside Exploration and is being drilled by the Deepwater Invictus drillship.

The cost?

About US$85 million.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, in a news conference to mark the event yesterday, said once the drillship successfully encounters its first target at a depth of 20,537 feet (6,260 metres), it will probably be deepened to test two further targets.

“If this is executed, the Broadside Exploration well will be the deepest well ever drilled in Trinidad and Tobago, exceeding 20,000 feet below the mudline,” he said.

“The Broadside well is not only significant because of its depth. The well will test the oil play within BHP’s southern deepwater blocks, which include TTDAA 3, 5 and 6. If the finds of the Broadside well are promising, it can inform the drilling of further exploration wells in nearby blocks.

“Additionally, a commercial discovery in any of Broadside’s Miocene targets could derisk the majority of the prospective resour­ces identified by Netherland, Sewell and Associates, Inc (NSAI) in its audit of the country’s crude oil reserves and resources for year-end 2018,” he said.

The Prime Minister acknowledged there will still be challenges ahead.

“I am well aware that we are only part of the way there, and that even if there is a significant oil find, there may be other hurdles that stand between these discoveries and their commercialisation. The reality is that these challenges may be greater than the ones we have faced in the past because of the fact that commercialisation in deep water would be relatively new territory for us,” he said.

The Prime Minister announced that BHP has applied to the Ministry of Energy to enter into the Market Development Phase for Blocks 23(a) and TTDAA 14.

“If found to be economic, first gas could be as early as 2026,” he said.

Renegotiations

The Prime Minister recalled when he visited Australia in 2018, Government gave BHP the “commitment that we would do all that is necessary to facilitate the success of the programme by amending the various production-sharing contracts, where appropriate, to ensure exploration success”.

Rowley said: “After the seismic acquisition and the first phase of drilling, it had become evident that the exploration programme had to be adjusted to optimise its chance of success.

“High-level discussions took place between BHP and a team, which included myself, as Prime Minister; the Minister of Energy and Energy Industries, Franklin Khan; and the Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Stuart Young.

“As a result of these discussions, the Government took the decision to facilitate the realignment of the exploration programme so as to give it the best chance of discove­ring new gas fields. A number of BHP’s production-sharing contracts were amended in such a way that as far as possible, the overall work programme would be honoured, in terms of number of wells drilled, total footage and expenditure levels,” he said.

Rowley noted the Covid-19 pandemic has heralded rapid changes in digitisation, with many countries and companies reaffirming their commitment to the energy transition, as well as the decarbonisation of the energy value chain and the development of new low-carbon businesses.

Timeline of drilling campaign

• The Broadside Exploration well is in Block TTDAA 3, within BHP’s southern deepwater acreage.

• BHP and its joint venture partners were awarded nine deepwater production-sharing contracts during the period 2012 to 2014.

• The award of contracts was then followed by the acquisition of 3D seismic data during March 2014 to February 2015, and the subsequent drilling of ten exploration wells.

• The drilling of the exploration well took place in four phases, u­sing the same Transocean Deepwater Invictus drillship.

• During the first phase of the drilling campaign from May 2016 to December 2016, the LeClerc-1 and Burrokeet-2 wells were drilled in Blocks TTDAA 5 and 23(a) respectively.

• During the second phase of the drilling campaign from June 2018 to October 2018, the Victoria-1 and Concepcion-1 wells were drilled in Block TTDAA 5, and Bongos-2 in Block TTDAA14.

• The third phase of the drilling campaign ran from February 2019 to June 2019, during which the Tuk-1 and Bele-1 wells located in Block 23(a) and the Hi-Hat-1 well in Block TTDAA14 were drilled.

• Phase four, from August 2019 to October 2019, resulted in the Boom-1 and Carnival-1 wells being drilled in Block TTDAA14.

• Of all the exploration wells drilled prior to Broadside, seven were successful.

• BHP has already spent about US$1 billion and drilled a cumulative 108,893 feet (33,190.5 metres), true vertical depth below mudline, since the inception of this deepwater campaign.

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