ExxonMobil gearing up for Liberia spud

ExxonMobil has set a timeframe for drilling of a long-delayed wildcat well in Block LB-13, offshore Liberia, for late 2016 to early 2017. 

Canadian Overseas Petroleum Limited (COPL), a partner in the project, said on Wednesday it had received Work Program and Budget for 2016 from ExxonMobil (the operator). This Work Program is the operator’s best estimate as to the timing of key activities.

The well to be drilled under the 2nd Exploration Phase, Mesurado-1, is planned to spud in late 2016 to early 2017 with the primary goal of proving a commercial quantity of hydrocarbons in the Cretaceous Santonian-age reservoirs. The well will also provide calibration for the seismic response which can be used to evaluate other leads on the block.

According to COPL, the exploration well is currently estimated to be drilled for a total cost of $120M, which is the gross amount of the company’s 17% carried interest. Long lead items have been ordered and there is an on-going effort to secure a rig of opportunity, COPL said. The exact timing of the well will be dependent on rig availability and when ExxonMobil can confirm 3rd party contractor’s capability to operate in Liberia.

Arthur Millholland, President and CEO, commented: “This is a positive first step in proceeding with the drilling of the Mesurado-1 well, subject to overcoming the remaining logistical issues related to the need for participation from third party contractors.

“While the delay to the exploration program has been frustrating for COPL and its shareholders, we are pleased to now have a timetable to work towards exploring this highly prospective acreage.”

Ebola crisis

The Ebola crisis starting in 2014 in Liberia has caused significant impacts to the LB-13 operational schedule in 2014 and 2015. Even with the recent second declaration of “Ebola Free” status by the WHO, uncertainty continues to remain as to when ExxonMobil will be fully operational in Liberia.

However, COPL concludes that the “State of Emergency” agreement with NOCAL and the Operator, announced in 2014, provides for additional time to complete the work program in the 2nd Exploration Phase of the LB-13 Production Sharing Contract.

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