In a move that bodes well for efforts to harness Oman’s untapped offshore hydrocarbon potential, the local subsidiary of global energy major Eni has commenced drilling of what is billed as the first deep-water well in the Sultanate’s history.
A drillship chartered by Eni Oman commenced drilling activities in Block 52, a vast deepwater concession that extends off the Sultanate’s southern and south-eastern seaboard, a high-level executive said.
“Yes, I can confirm that drilling operations started on February 10 of this year,” said Salvatore Giammetti, Managing Director — Eni Oman. “This is the first offshore deepwater well in the history of Oman’’.
In remarks to journalists on the sidelines of a press briefing on the upcoming Oman Petroleum and Energy Show 2020 (OPES), Giammetti said the maiden well is a testament to Eni’s commitment to the Sultanate’s hydrocarbon sector.
“In the last two years, we have signed more than 16 (Oil & Gas) agreements in the Middle East. But Block 52 has been the first, and as a matter of fact, Oman was the first country in the region with which we have signed an agreement (following Eni’s return to this region after a long gap).”
Eni’s decision to drill its first deepwater offshore well — “against a very tight schedule” — was also aimed at demonstrating the energy major’s “fast-track approach” in the delivery of any exploration project, said Giammetti. The Pacifica Bora, a drillship owned and operated by Pacific Drilling, is currently drilling in a water depth of around 880 metres in Block 52, the Managing Director said.
Eni Oman is the operator of Block 52 — a massive 90,790 sq kilometre concession — with a 55 per cent stake. Qatar Petroleum holds a 30 per cent interest, while Oman Oil Company Exploration & Production (OOCEP) — the upstream investment arm of OQ (formerly Oman Oil & Orpic Group) — owns the balance 15 per cent.
Although largely unexplored, Block 52 is believed to be prospective for hydrocarbon resources based on evidence of the presence of petroleum systems in the block. Water depths range from 10 metres near the coast to 3,000 metres at the deep end, underscoring the challenges for Eni in the exploration and production, if any, of subsea resources.
Eni also has investments in two other blocks in the Sultanate. Eni and BP each hold a 50 per cent interest in Block 77, covering a total area of 2,734 sq km in central Oman.
Eni is the operator during the exploration phase of an EPSA pact signed with the Omani government. Eni (as operator with 90 per cent interest) and OOCEP (10 per cent) have also entered into an Exploration and Production Sharing Agreement (EPSA) for Block 47, an onshore block in Al Dakhiliyah Governorate covering an area of 8,524 sq km.