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Colombian exploration to heat up in 2017

Written by  Saturday, 19 November 2016 12:57

After forming its own offshore-focused offshoot this January, Colombian state oil company Ecopetrol noted in its Q3 conference call that it intends to stabilize its production with a more "aggressive" exploration drilling program slated for 2017.

The Bollete Dolphin drillship.
Photo: Fred. Olsen Energy.

"We will be aggressively drilling in the offshore in Colombia next year," said Ecopetrol CEO Juan Carlos Echeverry on the 16 November conference call.

Most of the offshore projects underway are in the northwest of the country, in the Caribbean Sea, an area which the company called important to its plans. Ecopetrol's Exploration Vice President Max Torres noted that of the 15 exploration wells the Colombian operator plans to drill next year, five will be offshore.

"I think our big bet or big promise is offshore, and we’re going to be drilling in a matter of weeks," Torres said during the conference call. "We’re going to be drilling the appraisal well in Purple Angel, which is the Kronos discovery appraisal. Next year, we’re going to be drilling Brahma, which is a sort of an appraisal of our discovery in Aragua, and two new prospects like Molusco and Siluro. So, as you see, aggressive activity and big promises for the future."

Colombia actively marketed its offshore resources during its 2014 Round, offering 13 offshore blocks, 10 in the Caribbean and three in the Pacific. The round saw Repsol and Anadarko pick up further exploration blocks.

US Independent Anadarko had previously announced in its 31 October operations report that it will drill the Purple Angel-1 prospect this quarter (Q4). Anadarko operates Purple Angel and Kronos with 50% working interest. Ecopetrol holds the other 50%.

The Purple Angel-1 appraisal well is designed to test objectives similar to those of the Kronos discovery. Kronos, in a frontier deepwater basin in the Fuerte Sur block, was drilled to 12,200ft (3720m), and encountered 130-230ft (40-70m) of net natural gas pay in summer 2015. Fred. Olsen’s Bolette Dolphin drillship drilled Kronos prospect and is under contract to Anadarko until 2018. Vessel Tracker places the drillship near Cartagena, Colombia as of 19 November.

The Brahma prospect is part of the Tayrona Block, which is operated by Brazil's Petrobras (40%). It's partners on Tayrona include Ecopetrol (30%), Spain's Repsol (20%) and Norway's Statoil (10%). Tayrona, offshore Guajira, is home to the 2014 Orca-1 discovery.

The Molusco (Spanish for Mollusk) prospect is inside Block RC-9, operated by Ecopetrol along with partner India's ONGC.

The Siluro prospect is inside the RC-11 block, operated by Spain's Repsol (50%) in partnership with Ecopetrol. According to a 2014 presentation from Repsol, Siluro is in 90m of water and will target the lower Miocene carbonate.

Anadarko also announced in late October that it has completed the Esmeralda 3D seismic survey, covering almost 30,000sq km, making it Anadarko’s and Colombia’s largest 3D survey and one of the largest 3D surveys in the world.

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