The first few months of 2019 are set to be a busy time for deepwater exploration in Trinidad and Tobago, with BHP reportedly set to drill three wells to follow up its Bongos 2 discovery last year. The Bongos 2 well was drilled in BHP’s Trinidad and Tobago Deep Atlantic Area (TTDAA) Block 14, in deepwater east of Tobago. BP holds a non-operator share in the block. The wells will be drilled by the Deepwater Invictus drillship, which has been drilling for BHP in TTDAA and the Gulf of Mexico.  

According to respected Trinidadian geologist, Dr. Krishna Persad, the Bongos find lies within the Central Range Transpressive Zone and is on trend with BHP’s Angostura field complex. Dr. Persaud believes that there is potential for gas in the shallower horizons, and gas condensate and oil in the deeper horizons. 

While BHP is gearing up for the third phase of its deepwater exploration campaign, Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries has put up six shallow water blocks in a new competitive bid round, due to close on May 20th 2019. The bid round comprises mainly gas-prone acreage off the east, north and west coasts of Trinidad. 

There are three blocks on offer off the east coast, namely ‘Lower Reverse L’, Block U(c) and Block 4(c). There has already been a lot of exploration activity on these blocks and on adjacent blocks under license/production sharing contracts, but seismic data, in most cases, is over 30 years old. The expectation would be that newer, state-of-the-art ocean bottom node (OBN) seismic might help illuminate prospects that were not identified in the past. 

According to geologist, Wilson Lalla, while the ‘Lower reverse L’ could possibly contain a significant oilfield, any larger structures would probably have been identified and tested with the wells already drilled on the block in the past. This means that the potential is probably more likely to be for small accumulations in the 50-100 million barrels of recoverable reseres range, that would have been difficult to define from the existing seismic data. 

The other two east coast blocks, U(c) and 4(c), are more likely to be gas prone, with the expectation that they are likely to have smaller gas/condensate fields in the 50 to an upside of 500 bcf of recoverable reserves range. The blocks’ proximity to existing producing fields, and the associated infrastructure, mean that it might be possible to economically develop small gas accumulations. 

The two north coast marine area blocks on offer (NCMA 2 & 3) were previously contracted by Canadian independent, Niko Resources, who were at one time major acreage holders offshore Trinidad. Niko Resources, and their partners, German company, RWE, acquired the two NCMA blocks in the September 2010 bid round and ran seismic data acquisition on the blocks. However, Niko Resources encountered some serious financial constraints and were never able to execute the drilling programme that they had committed to for the block. The blocks were therefore returned to the Ministry. 

The NCMA 2 block is adjacent to Shell’s producing Hibiscus, Chaconia and Poinsettia gas fields and on trend with these fields and the Orchid gas accumulation. The proximity of the block to the producing NCMA fields could assist in the economics of any discovery. A commercial development on the block could also have the added benefit of helping the economics of the existing undeveloped Orchid gas field on NCMA 4 block by bringing production infrastructure closer to the Orchid field. 

The final block on offer is Block 1(b) in the Gulf of Paria. The block contains a previously producing oilfield, the Couva Marine 1, which made the news last year when a well on the field that had never properly been abandoned began leaking into the sea. Couva Marine was operated by Dominion Oil back in the 1960s and was then taken over by Texaco and abandoned in 1976, having only produced some 200,000 barrels of oil. This block had been licensed to PetroCanada in the January 2004 bid round along with block 1(a). PetroCanada ran 3D seismic on both blocks in 2006. This led to the discovery of two small gas fields, Anole and Iguana, which were subsequently purchased by Centrica. The Iguana gas field was subsequently purchased and developed by DeNovo, Trinidad’s newest gas producer, with first gas late last year.