BP Makes Major Gas Find off Mauritania (Update)
(Adds comments from Wood Mackenzie)
BP has made another major gas discovery off the coast of Mauritania, its Texas-based project partner Kosmos Energy said on October 28, potentially supporting a new LNG export project. Consultancy Wood Mackenzie said it was the third biggest find of the year and the biggest deepwater find, and would be well placed for European markets.
The Orca-1 well was drilled 125 km offshore in the BP-operated BirAllah hub to a depth of 5,266 metres, Kosmos said. It targeted a previously untested Albian play, encountering a 36-metre net gas pay in excellent quality reservoirs.
The well also extended the Cenomanian play fairway by confirming 11 metres of net gas pay in a down-structure position relative to the original Marsouin-1 discovery well completed on the crest of the anticline in 2015. Orc-1, located 7.5 km from the crest, proved both the structural and stratigraphic trap of the Orca prospect, which Kosmos estimated to hold 13 trillion ft3 of initially in-place gas.
“The Orca-1 well concludes a very strong year for exploration and appraisal in Mauritania and Senegal,” Kosmos CEO Andrew Inglis said. “Orca-1, which we believe is the largest deepwater hydrocarbon discovery in the world so far this year, further demonstrates the world-scale quality of the Mauritania gas basin.”
BirAllah is one of three BP-operated gas hubs off the coast of Mauritania and Senegal, alongside Tortue and Yakaar Teranga. BP has 60% stakes in the projects, while Kosmos has 30% shares and the remaining interests are held by the national oil companies of Senegal and Mauritania. According to Kosmos, each hub could provide 10mn mt/yr of LNG exports, but so far the partners have only taken a final investment decision on an LNG plant at Tortue, with first gas expected in 2022. Kosmos said it believed Orca-1 and Marsouin-1 had more than sufficient resources to underpin a “world-scale LNG project.”
In light of the new discovery, Kosmos has extended the timeframe for its planned farm-out of its Mauritania and Senegal assets to give potential bidders more time to analyse the data.
More competition for US LNG: WoodMac
Wood Mackenzie said the well de-risks up to 50 trillion ft3 in the BirAllah area plays, which are in the same fairway as the Greater Tortue Ahmeyim and Yakaar gas discoveries. And as neither of the countries involved has a gas market, LNG will be the sole option. LNG from Mauritania and Senegal needs a breakeven of less than $6.2/mn Btu while US LNG has a breakeven closer to $7/mn Btu, WoodMac said.
Finding partners who can provide LNG offtake will be an important next step for the further developments after Tortue Phase 1, it said. But if an "onshore LNG solution can be found, BirAllah and Orca could prove to be a simpler hub than the cross-border Tortue development.”