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Major gas discovery off the coast of Mauritania

Oct 29, 2019
3 min read
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Kosmos Energy, BP and SMHPM have made a major gas discovery at the Orca-1 well offshore Mauritania in the BirAllah area.

Located approximately 125 kilometers offshore Mauritania, the Orca-1 well was drilled in approximately 2,510 meters of water to a total measured depth of around 5,266 meters.

The drilling proved both the structural and stratigraphic trap of the Orca prospect, which Kosmos said they estimate has a mean gas initially in place (GIIP) of 13 TCF. This makes Orca-1 the third-largest discovery made so far this year, and the largest deep-water find, according to Wood Mackenzie.

Commenting on the results of the Orca-1 well, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Andrew G. Inglis said: “The Orca-1 well concludes a very strong year for exploration and appraisal in Mauritania and Senegal. Orca-1, which we believe is the largest deepwater hydrocarbon discovery in the world so far this year, further demonstrates the world-scale quality of the Mauritania gas basin. With sufficient resource in place at the BirAllah hub, Kosmos looks forward to working with the Government of Mauritania and its partners to bring benefits to the people of Mauritania through the development of cost competitive, low carbon intensity projects.”

Following today’s positive drilling result and due to the scale and materiality of the Orca-1 discovery, Kosmos is extending the timeline of its Mauritania/Senegal sell down process into 2020, giving potential bidders additional time to analyse the new data.

Partners in the BirAllah gas hub, located offshore Mauritania, include SMHPM, BP, and Kosmos.

“The deepest and largest discovery so far this year, Rystad Energy estimates Orca-1 holds around 1.3 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe) of recoverable resources,” says Palzor Shenga, a senior analyst on Rystad Energy’s upstream team.

Lennert Koch, principal analyst, sub-Sahara Africa upstream, at Wood Mackenzie, said: “Orca-1 de-risks up to 50 tcf in the BirAllah area plays, which are in the same fairway as the Greater Tortue Ahmeyim and Yakaar gas discoveries. It also provides options on what to develop first.

“Nevertheless, each is faced with a major monetisation challenge. Mauritania has no domestic gas market to speak of. There are plans to further develop Senegal’s gas market, but this will not be sufficient to develop these deepwater gas resources. The main way out will be liquefied natural gas (LNG).”

Koch added: “After a record year for LNG project sanctions in 2019 (63 million tonnes per annum to date), supply by the mid-2020s looks plentiful, which may keep prices low.

“Developing another LNG project, and finding buyers for that LNG, could be challenging. Finding the right partners who can provide LNG offtake will be an important next step for the further developments after Tortue Phase 1.”

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