Cobalt International Energy, Inc today provided an update on its deepwater drilling operations in West Africa and the Gulf of Mexico, and announced that it has entered into a new rig contract.
In West Africa, the Total Gabon operated Diaman #1B well, drilled on the Diaba block in offshore Gabon, has reached its total depth of 5,585 meters (18,323 feet), and encountered approximately 50-55 meters (160-180 feet) of net hydrocarbons in the objective Pre-salt formations. The Diaman #1B well has successfully confirmed the existence of a working petroleum system. Early indications are that the discovered hydrocarbons are gas with condensate. A full analysis of the hydrocarbon encountered in the sandstone reservoirs will be conducted. The Diaman #1B well, located in 1,729 meters (5,673 feet) of water, is more than 100 km (62 miles) from the nearest Pre-salt commercial discovery and is the first test of the Pre-salt in deepwater Gabon. The well will be temporarily abandoned pending further technical and commercial analysis. Cobalt owns a 21.25 percent working interest in the Diaman #1B well.
Also in West Africa, Cobalt confirmed today that operations continue to progress on the Lontra #1 well in Block 20 and the Mavinga #1 well in Block 21, offshore Angola. Results from these wells are anticipated later in the third quarter or early in the fourth quarter. Cobalt owns a 40 percent working interest and is the operator of both wells.
In the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, Cobalt announced that its Ardennes #1 exploratory well in Green Canyon Block 896, which targeted both Miocene and Inboard Lower Tertiary reservoirs, reached its objective total depth of 36,552 feet (11,141 meters). While reservoir sands were encountered in the well, neither targeted zone contained commercial hydrocarbons. Cobalt, as operator, owns a 42 percent working interest in Ardennes.
In addition, on August 5, 2013, Cobalt executed a drilling contract with Rowan Reliance Limited, an affiliate of Rowan Companies plc, for the Rowan Reliance, a new-build, ultra-deepwater dynamically positioned drillship. This state-of-the-art deepwater rig, equipped with a 2.5 million pound hookload capacity and two seven-ram BOP systems, provides the robust drilling and safety capabilities needed to drill all of Cobalt’s deepwater Gulf of Mexico wells, including Cobalt’s Inboard Lower Tertiary exploratory wells and Cobalt’s North Platte appraisal wells. The Rowan Reliance drillship will be capable of operating in water depths of up to 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) and drilling to measured depths of up to 40,000 feet (12,192 meters). The drilling contract provides for a firm three-year commitment, expected to begin in early 2015, at a day rate of approximately $602,000 (inclusive of mobilization fees) and two one-year extension options at day rates to be mutually agreed.
“The Diaman #1 well results represent an excellent start to the exploration of the emerging Pre-salt basin in deepwater Gabon”, said James W. Farnsworth, Cobalt’s Chief Exploration Officer. “This discovery is a culmination of a five-year exploration program in which we and our partners have been successful in identifying and testing the initial phase of Gabon’s Pre-salt potential. Combined with Cobalt’s industry-leading deepwater Pre-salt position in offshore Angola, this offshore Gabon Pre-salt discovery further deepens our understanding of the West Africa Pre-salt margin. We look forward to additional drilling and evaluation activity on the Diaba license following the integration of these important well results.” Farnsworth further added, “While our Ardennes test did not discover commercial hydrocarbons, we were able to confirm our Inboard Lower Tertiary geologic model that predicted a high potential sand fairway. Our challenge now will be to apply what we’ve learned at Ardennes to further enhance our understanding of the Inboard Lower Tertiary play.”
Van Whitfield, Cobalt’s Chief Operating Officer, said, “While disappointed with the Ardennes #1 well results, I am extremely proud of the organization’s performance in safely drilling the deepest well drilled to date in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. Cobalt remains very excited about our Gulf of Mexico prospect portfolio and the potential of the Inboard Lower Tertiary following our previously announced North Platte and Shenandoah discoveries. Our commitment to this basin is further evidenced by the long term drilling contract we recently executed with Rowan for the new ultra-deepwater Rowan Reliance drillship.”
Following operations on the Ardennes #1 well, the ENSCO 8503 rig will move to drill the Aegean #1 exploratory well in Keathley Canyon Block 163. Aegean #1 will test an Inboard Lower Tertiary prospect located 18 miles (29 km) southwest of Cobalt’s North Platte discovery. Cobalt, as operator, owns a 60 percent working interest in Aegean.