China’s Sinopec Geophysical Corporation (SGC) has landed a key contract to shoot 1500 kilometres of 2D seismic data across seven licences onshore the Ivory Coast operated by Tullow Oil.
Sources at the Africa Oil Week conference in Cape Town said the Chinese player is preparing to begin the shoot, which is expected to involve a total crew of about 800 and will likely run for about one year due to the complex nature of the survey.
The location of these licences poses challenges for the survey due to the presence of lagoons, environmentally sensitive areas and pipelines, as well as small and large urban areas.
SGC currently has three crews running in Algeria shooting 2D and 3D surveys for state-owned Sonatrach and earlier this year completed a 500-kilometre survey over Block 17 in Sudan for the government.
It has opened an office in Cairo to break into the Egyptian market where the Western Desert would be a core contracting play.
It has crews on standby to work in the Central African Republic once the security situation there improves.
Currently, some 90% of SGC’s business is carried out in China and includes major campaigns in the country’s shale plays.
Speaking at a PESGB-HGS conference recently, Keryn Simpson, senior geologist at Tullow, suggested this seismic operation will underpin a plan towards drilling “a first well around 2022".
The seven contiguous licences - CI-301, CI-302, CI-518, CI-519, CI-520, CI-521 and CI-522 – hug the coastline and straddle the east-west trending Lagunes fault system.
Tullow has mapped leads all along the coast and has identified four areas of interest after reprocessing vintage 2D seismic, interpreting full tensor gravity gradiometry data and studying oil seeps.
Tullow plans to deploy unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and passive seismic technology as part of the survey operation to help with line corridor mapping before scouts are on the ground and ahead of the seismic crew starting work.
To boost sub-surface knowledge, passive seismic receivers will be deployed along the shoreline, near pipelines and in environmentally sensitive areas that make the acquisition of conventional 2D seismic a challenge.
Legacy seismic in Tullow’s acreage dates from 1978 to 1997, while the last of 13 exploration wells - which had a couple with hydrocarbon shows - was drilled in 1979, more than two decades after the first probe spudded.
Simpson said the Ivory Coast team has been able to secure “very little data from these old wells” and has also had trouble pinpointing some of the exact locations.
The assumed positions of one or two wells are slightly out, she said, so “we will suggest the seismic crew will look for them while they are working".
Tullow’s partners in the acreage are Cairn Energy and state-owned Petroci.