Total gets more time for Foz do Amazonas wells

French player granted two-year extension for seven-well ultra-deepwater wildcatting campaign off Brazil

French oil giant Total has won more time to carry out an ambitious seven-well wildcatting campaign in the Foz do Amazonas basin off Brazil, allowing it to take a more phased approach to its exploration activities in the region.

Upstream has learned that just before Christmas Total secured a two-year extension, until August 2020, for its five exploration blocks in Foz do Amazonas.

These include blocks FZA-M-86, FZA-M-88, FZA-M-125, FZA-M-127 and FZA-M-57, which is considered the company’s most important permit, giving its close proximity to the Zaedyus discovery in neighbouring French Guiana.

The work commitment calls for the drilling of three wells each at FZA-M-57 and FZA-M-88, plus one more at FZA-M-127.

The programme will mainly focus on Campanian age reservoirs, although two wells — one in FZA-M-57 and another at FZA-M-127 — will be further deepened to target Upper Albian age reservoirs.

The challenging ultra-deepwater endeavour in the northern equatorial margin will take place in water depths ranging from 2300 metres to 2896 metres, with wells reaching final depths of more than 6500 metres.

Total indicated in 2015 it would begin by drilling the Tucano exploration well in FZA-M-57, although plans may have changed with the analysis and interpretation of new 3D seismic data.

Total informed Upstream that the first equipment for the company’s drilling drive in the Foz do Amazonas basin, such as drill pipes and drillbits, began to arrive this week at Belem port, which will be its logistics base.

“Total is now waiting for federal environmental regulator Ibama to issue the final licence to start drilling wells in the Foz do Amazonas basin. Until then, the drilling equipment will be stored,” said the company.

Total aims to start its drilling programme later this year. Even though the company has received commercial bids from several rig contractors in December 2015, it has yet to award a contract, leaving some market players concerned.

“From all I know, this tender has been dormant for several months, but we haven’t received any letter informing us of its cancellation,” said a source with a rig contractor.

Nevertheless, Total confirmed to Upstream it will indeed begin drilling in Foz do Amazonas in 2017, and that the extension granted by the ANP will give the company more flexibility to run its campaign, instead of drilling back-to-back wells as was originally envisioned. “Having more time to analyse in detail the data obtained is fundamental to increase the chances of exploration success in the region,” a spokesperson said.

One source told Upstream that other operators in Foz do Amazonas, including BP, Queiroz Galvao E&P, BHP Billiton, Ecopetrol and Brasoil, are also seeking similar extensions for their exploration activities with market regulator ANP.

“After agreeing to Total’s request, I see no reason why the ANP won’t do the same for the other companies,” said the source.

The ANP successfully auctioned off 12 exploration blocks in the Foz do Amazonas basin in May 2013 in the country’s 11th oil and gas licensing round.