Fewer than 40 wells have been drilled offshore Morocco since oil explorers began looking for hydrocarbons there in the late 1960s. But the basins in this underexplored region are about to see a step-up in activity as independent firms target offshore Morocco as part of a wider campaign of drilling by the industry in the Atlantic Margin.
Cairn Energy plc has already begun drilling off the coast of the North African country, after starting its drilling campaign in October.
Cairn’s first exploration well, the FD-1 well on the Foum Draa block, failed to find any reservoirs, although gas shows and gas composition ratios encountered in the well confirmed a deepwater hydrocarbon system in the area.
Cairn’s next well in its Moroccan exploration program is located in the Juby Maritime III block, where Cairn is the operator with a 37.5-percent working interest (Genel Energy plc also holds a 37.5-percent working interest). This is targeting a Middle Jurassic carbonate prospect that is located in some 330 feet of water. The primary objective is around 3,280 feet below the 1969 Cap Juby oil discovery. Here, Cairn estimates a gross mean, un-risked prospective resource of around 73 million barrels. Cairn is also hoping to see success from a well drilled on the Cap Boujdour Block later in 2014. This is scheduled to be drilled by Kosmos Energy Ltd. during the fourth quarter of the year.
Cairn is acquiring a 20-percent non-operated interest via a farm-in agreement with Kosmos (which will retain a 55-percent stake) and the Moroccan government (25 percent). The prospect is estimated to contain resources that range from 500 million barrels of oil equivalent to 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent.
Kosmos is targeting two basins offshore Morocco: the Agadir basin and the Aaiun basin to the south, where the Cap Boujdour well will be drilled.
The Agadir basin – which oil major BP plc has farmed into leaving Kosmos with a 30-percent stake – is an unexplored salt basin where, according to the company, there is evidence of a working petroleum system as well as salt-related structures that are similar to those found in the Gulf of Mexico. Kosmos plans several exploration wells, with prospect sizes estimated to contain resources as big as 500 million barrels of oil.
In the southern part of the Agadir basin, Kosmos is planning to drill the FA-1 (formerly Eagle-1) exploration well on the Foum Assaka Block. This is targeting several deepwater objectives within the Eagle prospect that is estimated to hold mean resources of 360 million barrels of oil.
The well looks to be on schedule to spud during the first quarter 1Q 2014 after Kosmos reached a deal to share the rig Maersk Discoverer (UDW semisub) with BP and Maersk Drilling in early January. Drilling operations are expected to take up to three months.
On the Essaouira Block, in the northern part of the Agadir basin, Kosmos plans to drill the Boilers-1 well during 2Q 2015. The Boiler prospect is described by the company as a “well-defined structure with multiple stacked objectives”. The mean estimate for resources is 465 million barrels of oil.
HIGH-IMPACT EXPLORATION POTENTIAL
However, the most exciting area offshore Morocco as far as Kosmos is concerned is the Aaiun basin. This is described as having “high-impact” exploration potential, being one of the last undrilled Cretaceous basins along the South Atlantic Margin. Similar in size to the Niger Fan, it has several very large prospects.
It is in this basin that Kosmos plans to drill the Gargaa-1 well on the Cap Boujdour Block. This will target 1 billion barrels of oil resources within Lower Cretaceous deepwater reservoirs when it is drilled towards the end of 2014.
Elsewhere, Portugal’s Galp Energia Group is expected to drill a well in the Tarfaya Offshore area during the first half of 2014 after it finalized the acquisition of a 50-percent stake in the Tarfaya Offshore Block. The Tarfaya Block contains eight shallow water, underexplored permits that contain four primary Jurassic carbonate prospects that – according to Galp’s partner Tangiers Petroleum – have been independently assessed to hold prospective resources of 867 million barrels of oil on a P50 basis.
Apart from BP, major oil companies are yet to show much interest offshore Morocco, but that could change if any of the independents currently invested in the region score an exploration success during the coming months.