Cairn outlines major Senegal exploration plan

UK-based explorer Cairn Energy is ramping up its exploration and appraisal work offshore Senegal following the firm’s two major discoveries in the country made last year. 

Cairn is planning a “very ambitious” three-year evaluation plan, including three firm and three optional exploration and appraisal wells as well as new 3D seismic acquisition in the country’s waters, where it made the SNE-1 (Shelf Edge) discovery last year, described as potentially the largest global oil find made last year.

The plans were submitted to Senegal’s government last week and were outlined this morning (11 May) at a capital markets day in London. 

Simon Thomson, Cairn’s CEO, said the plans build on Cairn’s two “significant discoveries,” made last year, and would “lay the foundation for a long term multi-field, multi-phase exploitation plan.”

The work aims to size-up an estimated more than a billion barrels of oil mean risked resources in the firm’s two existing discoveries (SNE-1 and FAN-1 in the Sangomar and Sangomar Deep offshore blocks) as well as currently identified prospects offshore Senegal. 

Drilling is due to start in Q4 2015, using the 7th generation Ocean Rig Athena drillship, and will be focused on the acreage around the SNE-1 discovery well. The Ocean Rig Athena is currently contracted to ConocoPhillips in Angola. 

The firm, three-well program is currently planned to include two appraisal wells of the SNE-1 discovery, which will core and test the reservoir, as well as one shelf exploration well. There will also be a 2000sq km 3D seismic data acquisition campaign over the firm’s Sangomar and Rufisque blocks to help fully map the prospectivity of the contract area.

Plans for the further three wells will be presented to joint venture partners in Q3 2015, says Cairn. They will target both a further evaluation of the SNE-1 discovery, additional exploration in the shelf region, and exploration in the acreage around FAN-1. 

Cairn operates three blocks offshore Senegal – Sangomar, Sangomar Deep and Rufisque – under one license. The firm says that, to date, at least five prospects and eighteen leads have been identified and continue to be matured to drillable status across the three blocks. Development could be via an FPSO with subsea tie-backs. Production capacity would be around 100 MMb/d in order to accommodate future satellite tie-ins. 

FAN-1 was drilled in 2014 in 1427m water depth, 100km offshore in the Sangomar Deep block. SNE-1 was drilled in 1100m water depth, 100km offshore, in the Sangomar Offshore block. Both were made in Albian aged sandstones. 2C resources on SNE are already estimated at 330 MMbbl. 2C resources on SNE are already estimated at 330 MMbbl.

Thomson says: “Cairn made two significant discoveries offshore Senegal in 2014 proving a hydrocarbon system in a new and emerging Atlantic Margin Basin. We have now submitted a three year evaluation work plan to the Government of Senegal which is designed to lay the foundation for a long term multi-field, multi-phase exploitation plan.”

Cairn is operator of the three licenses, holding 40% equity, alongside partners ConocoPhillips (35%), FAR (15%) and PETROSEN (10%). 

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