Noble drilling off Nicaragua

September 19, 2013

Diamond Offshore Drilling's Ocean Saratoga semisubmersibleDiamond Offshore Drilling Inc.'s Ocean Saratoga semisubmersible drilling rig spudded a well on Noble Energy's Tyra Bank concession off Nicaragua in mid August. The rig is under contract to Noble Energy for US$323,000/d and is expected to finish in late November.

The well is 168km (104mi.) from the Nicaraguan coastal town of Bluefields, and will be drilled to 3358m (11,017ft) TD.

Houston-based Noble Energy holds 1.8 million acres in the Caribbean Sea off Nicaragua, that it estimates could contain 2.7 billion bbl of oil. The company plans to invest US$30 million to drill two wells off Nicaragua, the country announced in mid-July.

Nicaragua has created more than 150 offshore blocks and plans to offer nearly 68,500 sq km of territory. In 2012, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague rejected Nicaragua's claims to a group of Caribbean islets, including San Andres, but extended its maritime boundaries. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega Saavedra fully supports offshore exploration in the area, although the country is still involved in a maritime border  dispute with Colombia, which is appealing the ruling. The area includes the UNESCO-sanctioned Seaflower biosphere reserve, situated halfway between Colombia and Jamaica. The marine biosphere covers 10% of the Caribbean Sea. The disputed area is also close to the Colombian island of Quitasueno.

Infinity Energy Resources Inc., based in Overland Park, Kansas,  holds two oil and gas concessions covering 1.4 million acres off Nicaragua, adjacent to licenses held by Noble Energy.

Infinity has identified four prospects along the Nica-Tinkham Ridge, offshore Nicaragua, after reprocessing shallow-water seismic over 547 sq mi. Outside consultants have calculated that potential oil resources in Eocene reservoirs could approach 10 billion bbl. Infinity is currently seeking a partner to explore and develop the Nicaraguan acreage.

In July, Infinity CEO Stanton Ross said the company wanted to acquire more than 1000km of additional 2D seismic before the end of the year. This week, Infinity said it had secured the services of consulting geophysicist Robert Fleming.

Photo: Ocean Saratoga topsides; photo by Mike Fisher.



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