Daily Archives: March 19, 2012
Helix Well Ops UK (Well Ops), a business unit of international energy services company Helix Energy Solutions Group (Helix ESG), has successfully completed a three-month campaign for West Africa’s first well intervention work and subsea well operations conducted from a mono-hull intervention vessel.
Operating the 132-metre (433ft) long Well Enhancer, Well Ops performed a subsea tree change out, well suspensions, well maintenance and production enhancement on seven wells in water depths of up to 471m (1,545ft). This project represents the deepest operation conducted from Well Enhancer since it joined the fleet in 2009.
The Well Enhancer’s arrival in the waters west of Africa marked the emergence of mono-hull-based well intervention services in a region that is experiencing rapid development. Compared to rig-based methods, intervention programs delivered from mono-hull vessels provide numerous operational and cost benefits to operators.
Steve Nairn, Well Ops’ regional vice president of Europe and Africa, said: “Providing operators with alternatives to rig-based well intervention brings new cost and time efficiencies to West African oil and gas projects. Because Well Enhancer deploys more quickly than a rig, and is designed specifically for well intervention work, she reduces down time and helps operators return as quickly as possible to their business of oil and gas production.”
Well Enhancer provides remotely operated vehicle (ROV), saturation diving and riser-based and riserless well intervention services. It features a 150-tonne multipurpose tower which is capable of deploying slickline, e-line and coiled tubing tool strings for well interventions in water depths of up to 600m (1,968ft) for wireline and 200m (656ft) for coiled-tubing. The vessel’s other key features include a 7⅜” subsea intervention lubricator which is a conduit for both live well access and well containment, an 18-man saturation diving spread, work and observation class ROV’s, kill pumps, and a 100-tonne crane which is rated to operate to water depths of 600m (1,968ft).
A business unit of Helix Energy Solutions Group, Aberdeen-based Helix Well Ops UK provides a range of well operation and decommissioning services using specialist vessels and innovative equipment. Launched in 1987, MSV Seawell was a pioneer of the light well intervention market and completed its first wireline intervention project in 1988. In 2009, Well Ops expanded its fleet with the launch of Well Enhancer, a 132-metre (433ft) long well intervention and diving vessel. The company employs 70 staff in Aberdeen and a further 300 offshore.
- UK: Talisman Selects Helix Well Ops for Subsea Works on Its Assets (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Helix Orders Semi-Sub Well Intervention Rig in Singapore (mb50.wordpress.com)
- USA: Helix to Build New Semi-Sub Well Intervention Vessel (mb50.wordpress.com)
- USA: Helix’s Oil & Gas Revenues Rise on High Prices and Lift in Production (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Helix Signs Contract for New Well Intervention Semi from Jurong Shipyard (gcaptain.com)
- McDermott signs agreement for spool base services in Gulf of Mexico (mb50.wordpress.com)
InterOil Corporation today said that its 2011 net profit was $17.7 million compared with a net loss of $44.5 million for the same period in 2010.
Fourth Quarter 2011 Highlights and Recent Developments
• During the fourth quarter, InterOil completed two Heads of Agreements (HOA) on long-term LNG supply for its proposed LNG project in Papua New Guinea, bringing the total of its three HOAs to 3.3 to 3.8 million tonnes per annum (mtpa). While not binding, these HOAs set out the basis upon which the parties intend to negotiate and document terms for the purchase and sale of LNG.
• Exploration activities continued across our three Petroleum Prospecting Licenses (PPLs) in PNG during the quarter. Seven dip lines were acquired to further delineate the Wahoo and Mako prospects and identify potential drilling locations. Processing and interpretation of the data is ongoing. A third phase of seismic data acquisition, which consists of two dip orientated lines totaling 21 kilometers in length over the Tuna prospect and Wahoo/Mako prospects, commenced on December 22, 2011. Line preparation is currently in progress.
• Net profit for the year ended December 31, 2011 was $17.7 million compared with a net loss of $44.5 million for the same period in 2010, an improvement of $62.2 million. The operating segments of Corporate, Midstream Refining and Downstream collectively returned a net profit for the year of $82.3 million. The development segments of Upstream and Midstream Liquefaction yielded a net loss of $64.6 million.
• Subsequent to the quarter end, on January 17th, 2012, InterOil announced that the Triceratops-2 delineation well had been spudded. The Triceratops-2 well is an appraisal well to test the presence of hydrocarbons and determine whether a potential reefal carbonate reservoir exists in the Triceratops field.
InterOil’s Chief Executive Officer Phil Mulacek commented, “We continue to work with our existing LNG development partners and the PNG government to advance our LNG project towards first production. Simultaneously, our advisors are managing the process of soliciting and evaluating proposals from potential strategic LNG partners. If a strategic partner is selected, we expect that such a partner would assist with accelerating the LNG project’s capacity growth. Our delineation drilling at Triceratops has the potential to add to our substantial resource estimate at Elk and Antelope, and provide back-up supply for increasing LNG capacity. Our prospect inventory is maturing and we anticipate that it will support our goal of a multi-year, multi-well exploration program. We believe that these achievements, combined with our strong balance sheet, support our continued growth and operational success.”
- InterOil Spuds Triceratops-2 Well in Papua New Guinea (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Soros Makes Waves Again (fool.com)
- InterOil Is Inches From Finalizing $6 Billion LNG Project (dailyfinance.com)
(Reuters) – Collapsing natural gas prices have yielded an unexpected boon for North Dakota‘s shale oil bonanza, easing a shortage of fracking crews that had tempered the biggest U.S. oil boom in a generation.
Energy companies in the Bakken shale patch have boosted activity recently thanks to an exceptionally mild winter and an influx of oil workers trained in the specialized tasks required to prepare wells for production, principally the controversial technique of hydraulic fracturing.
State data released this month showed energy companies in January fracked more wells than they drilled for the first time in five months, suggesting oil output could grow even faster than last year’s 35 percent surge as a year-long shortage of workers and equipment finally begins to subside.
As output accelerates, North Dakota should overtake Alaska as the second-largest U.S. producer within months, extending an unexpected oil rush that has already upended the global crude market, clipped U.S. oil imports, and made the state’s economy the fastest-growing in the union.
Six new crews trained in “well completion” — fracking and other work that follows drilling — have moved into North Dakota in the past two months alone, according to the state regulator and industry sources. Back in December, the state was 10 crews short of the number needed to keep up with newly drilled wells.
“Three to four months ago, the operators were begging for fracking crews,” said Monte Besler, who consults companies on fracking jobs in North Dakota’s Bakken shale prospect. Now “companies are calling, asking if we have a well to frack.”
For the last three years, smaller oil companies with thin pockets were forced to wait for two to three months before they could book fracking crews and get oil out of their wells. As more and more wells were drilled, that backlog has grown.
Last year, an average 12 percent of all oil wells were idled in North Dakota. Even so, output in January hit 546,000 barrels per day, doubling in the last two years and pushing the state ahead of California as the country’s third-largest producer.
FEWER WELLS IDLE
Fracking, which unlocks trapped oil by injecting tight shale seams with a slurry of water, sand and chemicals, has drawn fierce protests in some parts of the country, but it has not generated heated opposition in North Dakota.
The number of idle wells waiting to be completed in the state reached a record 908 last June, the result of a new drilling rush and heavy spring floods. Only 733 wells were idle in August as crews caught up, but the figure crept steadily higher until the start of this year.
Now, the industry may be turning a corner in North Dakota, the fastest-growing oil frontier in the world.
“Both rig count and hydraulic fracturing crews are limiting factors. Should they continue to rise together, production will not only increase, it will accelerate,” said Lynn Helms, director of the state Industrial Commission’s Oil and Gas Division.
The tame winter likely played an important role in helping reduce the number of idle wells — those that have been drilled but not yet fracked and prepped for production. That number fell by 11 in January, as oil operations that would normally be slowed by blizzards were able to carry on, experts said.
Residents of the northern Midwest state — accustomed to temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 Celsius) in winter and snow piles as high as 107 inches — this year enjoyed the fourth warmest since 1894, according to the National Weather Service.
The milder conditions also helped prevent the usual exodus of warm-weather workers that occurs when blizzards set in.
“Not everyone wants to work in North Dakota in the winter,” Besler said.
The backlog of unfinished wells has also begun to subside because the pace with which new wells are drilled has leveled off. The state hasn’t added new rigs since November.
The latest state data shows oil companies brought 37 new rigs to North Dakota’s in 2011 but have not added more since November. The rig count held steady at 200 in January 2012, although more than 200 new wells were drilled in that period.
SLUMPING NATGAS PRICE PROVIDES RELIEF
North Dakota has gotten a boost from the fall-off in natural gas drilling due to the collapse in prices to 10-year lows. Energy companies such as Chesapeake and Encana have shut existing natural gas wells and cut back on new ones. Last week, the number of rigs drilling for gas in the United States sank to the lowest level in 10 years as major producers slimmed down their gas business, according to data from Houston-based oil services firm Baker Hughes. [ID:nL2E8EG9OY] The fewer gas wells drilled, the less need for skilled fracking crews in the country’s shale gas outposts.
Fracking in oil patches is similar to the process used in gas wells, except for the inherent power of the pumps employed. Crews inject high-pressure water, sand and chemicals to free hydrocarbons trapped in shale rock. So big service firms such as Halliburton, Baker Hughes and Schlumberger are reshuffling crews from shale gas fields to oil prospects in the badlands. “We have moved or are moving about eight crews. Some of those crews are moving as we speak,” Mark McCollum, Halliburton’s chief financial officer, said at an industry summit in February.
Halliburton declined to specify where the crews were moving.
Calgary-based Calfrac moved one crew into the Bakken in late 2011, according to an SEC filing. Privately owned FTS International no longer works in the gas-rich Barnett shale but has set up operations in the Utica, an emerging prospect in Ohio and western Pennsylvania, according to a company representative.
The reallocations come with some efficiency losses. Halliburton had to scale back its 24-hour operations and is still trying to solve logistical problems. “You actually take the crew from one basin and they have to go stay in motels, you have to pay them per diems for a while. And then you have to double up your personnel while you’re training new, locally based crew on the equipment once it is moved,” McCollum said.
At the same time, a shortage of key equipment such as pressure pumps is easing as companies start taking delivery of material ordered months or even years ago.
It takes about 15 such pumps to frack a gas well, and many more for oil wells. The total pressure-pumping capacity in the United States at the end of 2012 will be 19 million horsepower, two-and-a-half times more than in 2009, according to Dan Pickering, analyst with Tudor Holt and Pickering in Houston.
FRACKING AROUND THE NATION
Easing personnel constraints suggest recruiters may be meeting with success in nationwide campaigns to attract workers with specialized knowledge of complex pumps and hazmat trucks — and a willingness to brave harsh conditions.
Even with U.S. unemployment at 8.3 percent, such skilled labor remains in short supply despite salaries from $70,000 to $120,000 a year. In North Dakota, unemployment was just 3.2 percent in January, the lowest rate in the nation.
Fracking crews, much like roughnecks on drilling rigs, clock in 12-hour shifts for two straight weeks before getting a day off. They live in camps far from cities and towns. Jobs are transient — a few weeks at a single location. Most workers divide their time between the California desert, Texas ranchlands and the freezing badlands of the Midwest state.
Companies have scrambled to nab talent, with recruiters scouring far and wide. Military bases have gotten frequent visits, and some companies have hired truckers from Europe.
“There’s definitely a push to look all over for people who have good experience since it takes at least six months to train someone how to use a fracking pump,” said David Vaucher, analyst with IHS Cambridge Energy Research.
(Editing by David Gregorio)
- Pioneer Bets On West Texas Shale Oil To Rival Bakken (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Newfound Billions Of Barrels Of Shale Oil In Newfoundland (mb50.wordpress.com)
- To frack or not to frack: North Dakota’s dilemma (usatoday.com)