Oil & Energy
This Tiny Country Could Become Europe’s Newest Oil Producer
It is rather rare to see enthusiasm for completely new exploration projects in Europe. The overwhelming majority of OECD countries are either in terminal decline or are looking into ways how to ban exploration altogether. The less-appraised parts of Eastern Europe might still have some potential yet in the absence of oil majors such endeavors risk remaining a lifelong pipe dream. Still, the appearance of a new European frontier can rekindle upstream hopes (even if for a short period of time). Europe’s latest addition to the list of nations willing to tap into their prospective hydrocarbon resources is located in the southeast of the Old Continent, in Montenegro. The small ex-Yugoslav republic with just slightly more than 600 000 inhabitants has witnessed its first offshore well spudded on March 25, 2021. The 4118-5-1 wildcat was drilled in 100 meters of water to a total depth of 6525 meters, some 25km from the Montenegrin shore.
The first offshore Montenegrin well was spudded by the ENI-NOVATEK tandem, with the Italian major taking on the reins of operatorship. Given the geographic proximity, ENI’s interest in offshore Montenegro is quite understandable and was to be expected. In case of any discovery, ENI has the convenient option of accommodating prospective production within its system, the Italian shore is only 500km from the wildcat’s location. The first well is targeting an oil reservoir at depths of 6.5km, implying that the Italian major’s 120kbpd Taranto Refinery might be a safe backstop for any potential crude produced. Along with Total, ENI has been one of the most active drillers in the Mediterranean, marking suchsupergiant discoveries as the Egyptian Zohr or the Cypriot Calypso. Across the Adriatic from Montenegro, ENI has been developing the Aquila field offshore Brindisi,producing medium density crude of some 36° API.
The case for NOVATEK’s participation in an offshore project is much more peculiar, considering that the Russian gas producer has no assets in the Adriatic.Moreover, NOVATEK is on the US’ Sectoral Sanctions Identifications (SSI) List, meaning that equity investments and financing matters are substantially encumbered. Luckily for the Russian firm, offshore Montenegro does not fall under any of the three sanctioned areas, Russian deepwater, Arctic offshore, and shale. Domestically, NOVATEK is heavily focused on gas production on the Gydan peninsula and in the surrounding area, compelling it to seek new niches it can fill, new frontiers that could serve as bases for future growth. In a sense, NOVATEK needs to overgrow its LNG specialization and gain market-relevant competence in other segments, too.
NOVATEK’s first step into the foreign offshore segment took place in Lebanon where it landed two offshore blocks in a consortium with Total and ENI in 2018. In both cases NOVATEK did not lay claims to operatorship, focusing on building up key relationships with Europe’s leading drillers. It seems very likely that it is from the Lebanese joint experience that the Montenegrin drilling ambition branched out into a separate work track. Concurrently, although Montenegro is one of the hottest candidates for EU accession, Podgorica remains beyond the bounds of the European Union. For NOVATEK this is a great boon, as sanctions risk can be negotiated directly with the relevant national authorities, i.e. no involvement of Brussels is required.
Technically,the Montenegrin offshore area has already seen exploration drilling, though that was back in the SFRY (Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) times, in 1980. Although Yugoslavia was a socialist country with all its peculiarities, it was the US major Chevron that was the operator of drilling operations. The Jadran Juzni (Southern Adria) prospect turned out to wield signs of oil and gas systems which, however, were deemed non-commercial,effectively closing Chevron’s offshore endeavors in Yugoslavia. It needs to be pointed out that the current wildcat is farther off the Montenegrin coast the Jadran Juzni well was only 3km from shore. To carry out the drilling, the ENI-NOVATEK tandem contracted the Topaz Driller, a Panama-flagged jack-up drilling rig. The contract was clinched in July 2020, for drilling operations starting in Q1 2021 and taking up to 180 days.
Up to now the work progress of ENI-NOVATEK seems fairly solid. In late 2018 their contractor has carried out a comprehensive 3D seismic survey on the 4118-5 Block, then the summer of 2019 witnessed a string of hydrophysical and geophysical surveys on the prospects. Having completed this, it was assumed that the spudding of the first well would take place in 2020, however, the coronavirus-triggered chaos upended all plans and effectively delayed the wildcat into 2021. Most probably the Italo-Russian joint venture will drill 2 wildcats. Even if the first well turns out to be completely dry or non-commercial, the second well (expected to be spudded in May-June 2021) is targeting gas plays at lower depths, i.e. the first well’s fiasco does not automatically foreshadow the failure of the second well.
According to media reports, it will take ENI 4-5 months to finalize the drilling of the wildcat and assess the results. Nevertheless, Montenegro’s offshore zone might more activity coming up in the upcoming months. The Greek Energean holds 2 license blocks (4219-26 and 4218-30) and is expected to take a decision on whether it intends to proceed with drilling exploratory wells in its acreage. The data to assess the blocks’ resource bounty is already there, Energean carried out 3D seismic surveying on both blocks in 2019 already. The spark of interest towards its off shore zone might compel the Montenegrin authorities to expedite a 2nd offshore bidding round which would presumably cover the 7 remaining unallotted blocks. There is very little probability that Podgorica will be trying to auction off onshore blocks,especially considering their history of dry wells.
Katona is a contributor.
By: Viktor Katona
Oil & Energy
‘NNPC Spent N15b To Reconstruct Lagos-Badagry Expressway’
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd.) has disbursed N15 billion for the reconstruction of the Lagos Badagry Expressway under the Federal Government Road Infrastructure Tax Credit (RITC) Scheme.
The N15 billion represents a 100 per cent payment of the funding of the Lagos-Badagry Road rehabilitation under the tax credit funding of the NNPC Ltd.
Group Chief Executive, NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, made this known when he led NNPC’s management team with some top government officials to inspect the ongoing rehabilitation and expansion of Lagos-Badagry Expressway (Agbara Junction-Nigeria/Benin Border).
The road under rehabilitation is being funded by the NNPC Ltd. under the Federal Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme.
The execution of the scheme is being carried out in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing as the supervisor and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for NNPC’s tax obligations deductions.
This is in response to address the plight faced by petroleum products marketers in transportation which affects nationwide distribution.
Kyari said the fund disbursed was part of the N621.24 billion earmarked for the reconstruction of 21 roads nationwide under the scheme.
He expressed satisfaction over the stage of the road development.
“We are covering 1,804.6mkm across the country and taking another set of over a trillion naira investment on infrastructure in Nigeria, believing that with the tax credit system which Mr President has put in place, very soon there will be massive change.
“NNPC as the enabler will consider from its cash flow and fund whatever FIRS and Ministry of works approve for the company”, he said.
The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, represented by the Director, Highways, Roads and Rehabilitation of the Ministry, Mr Folorunsho Esan, said the intervention of the NNPC sped up the reconstruction of the expressway.
Esan said the project was 40 per cent completed.
“In the next 12 months we should be able to deliver this project because the drainages are in place, just for earth works and pavement works, it cannot take us more than 12 months,” he said.
Speaking on the gridlock being caused by the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway project, he said the contractor would clear all impediments and move out of site by December 15 to make the highway free for Yuletide.
Oil & Energy
Oil Marketers Urge Buhari To Crash Diesel Price
Petroleum marketers under the platform of Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association of Nigeria (NOGASA) rose from their 2nd National Executive Council (NEC) meeting last week, within a plea to President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to make dollars available at official rate to oil marketers.
This, they said, will enable them import diesel, end petrol scarcity, and ultimately save the Nigerian economy from sinking, saying that dollar support should be available till Dangote Refinery comes on stream later in the year.
The association, among others, urged the National Assembly to immediately enact a Bill for the establishment of Energy Bank for easy transaction in petroleum products in the sector.
National President of the Association, Mr Benneth Korie, who briefed the media after the NEC meeting in Abuja, noted that the bulk of the operational challenge peppering marketers and depot owners spring from expensive diesel which hovers around N850/litre.
While thanking President Muhammadu Buhari for approving a higher bridging cost payment to transporters, Korie said the operators’ challenges were far from over as oil marketers and depot owners spend about N20 million weekly on diesel to power their operations, thus eroding their profits.
The association urges the National Assembly to review the policy of taxation as it affects petroleum products supply and distribution chain.
Oil & Energy
Senate To Honour Brave Petrol Tanker Driver
The Senate has resolved to honour Ejiro Otarigho, the brave tanker driver who drove a burning tanker from danger zone to avert a tragic fire incident in Agbarho, Delta State.
The Senate has also recommended Ejiro to President Muhammadu Buhari for National Honours.
This followed a motion moved by the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, and co-sponsored by Senator James Manager and Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, at plenary.
It would be recalled that in a rare act of bravery, Ejiro had last week driven a burning tanker from danger zone to avert what could have been a tragic fire incident in Agbarho, Delta State.
The incident happened last Friday when Ejiro drove the burning truck for 25 minutes from a densely populated area to Agbarho River where the tanker was completely razed in the inferno. The act was captured by onlookers and had gone viral.
Rising under Order 45 and 52 of the Senate Standing Order 2021 (as amended), Senator Omo-Agege stressed that but for Ejiro’s courage, a major fire disaster which would have claimed several lives and property could have happened in his senatorial district.
The Delta Central lawmaker noted that Ejiro’s “extraordinary display of courage, reflex application of special driving skills, and huge risk to his own life, prevented a huge national tragedy and catastrophe by driving a burning tanker loaded with inflammable petroleum products from residential areas to safety so that thousands of our people may not die in an inferno that would also have consumed so much property in Agbarho, Delta State on Friday, June 10, 2022”.
The driver’s audacious act of heroism, he stressed, has saved the nation from national tragedy and mourning.
Accordingly, the Senate resolved to “invite Mr. Ejiro Otarigho to the Chamber of the Senate for public commendation by the President of the Senate, Senator Ibrahim Lawan.
“Recommend Mr. Ejiro Otarigho to His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, for a befitting National Honour as Mr. President may deem fit for his extraordinary act of bravery, courage and skill that prevented the loss of human lives and property on a massive scale”.
President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, who presided over plenary, hailed the driver for risking his life to drive the burning truck out of residential area to save lives.
Crime/Justice5 days ago
Nigeria Currently Has 679 Peacekeepers In Global Operations – NDC Commandant
Niger Delta5 days ago
Assembly Poll: Bayelsa Speaker, Deputy, House Leader Win …As Chief Whip, Others Lose
Business5 days ago
Experts Query Expatriate Heading NNPCL Subsidiary
Nation5 days ago
‘Nigerians Have Lost Confidence, Trust In INEC’
News5 days ago
NBTE Mulls Export Of Skilled Labour To Europe
SMEs5 days ago
Plank Sellers, Butchers To Get N75m Loan For Biz
Opinion5 days ago
NYSC And 50 Years Of National Unity, Cohesion
Politics5 days ago
Rivers Gov’ship: Obuah Congratulates Fubara, Hails Rivers People