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USA: Maersk Secures Contract for Deepwater Advanced 2 Drillship

With the signing of a contract for the newbuild drillship Deepwater Advanced 2 Maersk Drilling adds USD 694 million to its contract backlog. Five out of seven newbuild drilling units have now secured contracts..

Maersk Drilling has signed a contract with ConocoPhillips Company a wholly owned subsidiary of ConocoPhillips and Marathon Oil Company a wholly owned subsidiary of Marathon Oil Corporation for the second ultra deepwater drillship in a series of four identical drillships currently under construction.

The estimated total contract value is USD 694 million including mobilization, but excluding cost escalation compensation. The contract duration is three years, with options for up to an additional two years and commencement of operations is expected by mid-2014 upon delivery from Samsung Heavy Industries in South Korea, mobilization to the US Gulf of Mexico and acceptance testing. The drillship will be equipped with two Blow-Out-Preventers (BOPs).

The drillship will be employed by ConocoPhillips and Marathon Oil for their respective drilling programs in the US Gulf of Mexico.

We are pleased to having been able to customize a drilling contract with ConocoPhillips and Marathon Oil combining their respective drilling programmes into a three year drilling contract providing security of deepwater rig availability for the two companies while leaving some flexibility in regards to the timing of their drilling programmes. In addition, merging the two programmes provides us with a contract with an attractive duration,” says Claus V. Hemmingsen, CEO of Maersk Drilling and member of the Executive Board of the A.P. Moller – Maersk Group.

Strong demand for advanced drilling rigs

Since 2011 Maersk Drilling has invested USD 4.5 billion in seven new drilling units currently under construction; three ultra harsh environment jack-ups at KeppelFELS in Singapore and four ultra deepwater drillships at Samsung Heavy Industries in South Korea. With the latest contract for the second drillship five out of the seven newbuild rigs have now secured contracts.

We are pleased to see continued strong demand for our advanced drilling rigs. This contract brings further evidence to our strategic focus on ultra harsh and deepwater drilling and provides firm ground for our ambitious growth plans,” says Claus V. Hemmingsen, CEO of Maersk Drilling and member of the Executive Board of the A.P. Moller – Maersk Group.

Maersk Drilling has performed deepwater operations in the US Gulf of Mexico since 2009 with the ultra deepwater semi-submersible Mærsk Developer. In June 2012, Maersk Drilling secured a contract for the first drillship under construction with commencement in the US Gulf of Mexico expected by end 2013.

The US Gulf of Mexico remains a focus area of Maersk Drilling, and we are pleased to further expand our presence in this attractive market positioning us with three ultra deepwater rigs by 2014,” says CEO Claus V. Hemmingsen.

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Marathon Oil in $750m Eagle Ford splash

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Bill Lehane
09 May 2012 14:15 GMT

Marathon Oil has splashed out $750 million to acquire Houston-based private Paloma Partners II and its Eagle Ford assets.

The US independent will pay in cash for the acquisition, which is expected to close subject to approvals in the third quarter.

Paloma II owns roughly 17,000 net acres in the Eagle Ford shale play, primarily in Karnes and Live Oak counties.

Net production at the properties as of 1 April was around 7000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Paloma II’s principal shareholders are Paloma Resources, Encap Energy Capital Fund VII and Macquarie Americas Corporation.

Marathon Oil has previously flagged its intentions to hone in the Eagle Ford, telling the Howard Weil conference earlier this year it would ramp up activity in the oil window of the South Texas shale play.

The Eagle Ford is a key plank of the New York-listed outfit’s $4.82 billion capital expenditure budget for this year.

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Marathon Sells Alaska Assets

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Marathon Oil Corporation announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Hilcorp Alaska LLC, under which Hilcorp will purchase substantially all of Marathon Oil’s Alaska assets.

The companies expect to close the transaction, subject to completion of the necessary Government and regulatory approvals, by this fall.

With an effective date of Jan. 1, 2012, the sale includes 17 million barrels of oil equivalent of net proved reserves across 10 fields in the Cook Inlet, as well as natural gas storage, and interests in natural gas pipeline transmission systems.

In 2011 net production averaged approximately 93 million cubic feet of natural gas per day and 112 barrels of oil per day.

Additionally, Marathon Oil had approximately 12.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas in storage at the end of 2011.

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Energy: Texas Tops Finds From Brazil to Bakken as Best Prospect

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By Edward Klump – Mar 22, 2012 7:00 PM CT

Energy companies in search of oil riches rivaling the biggest finds from Brazil to Angola are flocking to Texas shale, where new wells have triggered a 230- fold increase in crude output in three years

More than 115 years after a gusher 55 miles (88 kilometers) south of Dallas ushered in Texas’ first oil boom, U.S. producers such as ConocoPhillips and Marathon Oil Corp. (MRO) are counting on the Eagle Ford Shale to boost crude output amid a glut-driven slump in natural-gas prices.

Drilling for oil in the brush-covered plains of south Texas is cheaper and less risky than exploration offshore Brazil, the largest oil find in the Western Hemisphere in 30 years, and more profitable than the remote, rougher terrain of the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and Montana.

“The Eagle Ford is the top basin we have in the world today,” David Roberts, chief operating officer at Marathon Oil, told analysts and investors on a conference call last month.

Surging production in shale formations has transformed the U.S. energy landscape, flooding the market with gas and boosting domestic oil production by 14 percent from three years ago after dropping by a third in the previous 17 years, according to Energy Department data. After worries of a global oil shortage drove prices to record highs above $140 a barrel in 2008, politicians and industry executives now are discussing the prospect of the U.S. weaning itself from dependence on imports.

Doubling Down

Marathon Oil and ConocoPhillips (COP) both plan to double their production in the Eagle Ford this year. EOG Resources Inc. (EOG), based in Houston, calls the Texas shale play its biggest source of growth, and last month boosted its estimated recoverable reserves there by 78 percent.

Oil production in the Eagle Ford jumped almost sevenfold in 2011 to surpass 30 million barrels, still less than Bakken production in North Dakota that exceeded 128 million barrels. This year daily oil production in the Eagle Ford is forecast to expand by 200,000 barrels, roughly the same amount as the Bakken, according to estimates by Wood Mackenzie Ltd. cited by Hill Vaden, an analyst with the industry consultant.

The South Texas oil fields are winning a larger portion of producers’ investment because it’s easier and more profitable to drill there compared to many prospects in the U.S. and in the world. Wells are faster and cheaper to develop, and the formation is located closer to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast, lowering transportation costs.

Higher Prices

EOG said it costs about $5.5 million per well in the Eagle Ford, compared with more than $8 million per well in the Bakken, because of different well configurations. An offshore Gulf of Mexico well can cost $100 million, said Brian Uhlmer, an analyst at Global Hunter Securities LLC in Houston.

Deep-water wells can take five months or longer to drill, compared to a couple of weeks for a well in the Eagle Ford, said Brian Cain, a spokesman for Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (APC)

Producers can get a higher price for their Eagle Ford output than they can in the Bakken. Prices for Texas and Louisiana (USCRLLSS) crude this week are as much as about $38 a barrel more than production in the Bakken (USCRLLSS), according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“The economics there are absolutely stellar,” said Danny Brown, a general manager who helps oversee Anadarko’s Eagle Ford operations. Anadarko has said it is considering selling its exploration properties offshore Brazil.

Less Political Risk

Texas provides a more stable investment environment compared to many international projects, said Pavel Molchanov, an analyst at Raymond James & Associates in Houston.

“Clearly, there’s less political risk in Texas than in Libya, let’s say, or Kurdistan,” he said. Marathon Oil last year had output suspended in Libya during unrest in that country.

The Eagle Ford cuts across a 400-mile swath of southern Texas, according to the Railroad Commission, which regulates oil and gas production in the state. Producers have unlocked the resource using advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, which sends jets of water, sand and chemicals underground to break up rock.

Petrohawk Energy Corp., acquired by BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) last year, first drew attention to the Eagle Ford when it announced a gas find in 2008, a year when futures for the fuel in New York averaged more than $8 per million British thermal units.

Surging Production

Expanded use of fracturing, or fracking, across the U.S. caused a surge in gas output that drove prices to a 10-year low this month of $2.204 per million Btu. Meanwhile, crude in New York has climbed 15 percent since the end of 2010 and is trading for about $105 a barrel.

While drilling has slowed in U.S. shale gas fields such as the Fayetteville in Arkansas, development has accelerated in South Texas as producers focus on the formation’s oil-rich geology.

The Eagle Ford will help lead a surge in state drilling permits that’s on pace to reach 25,000 this year, the most since 1985, said Barry Smitherman, the commission’s chairman.

“It’s by far the most sought-after play anywhere — not only in this country, but anywhere around the world,” said Fadel Gheit, an analyst at Oppenheimer & Co. in New York.

A Sanford C. Bernstein report last August estimated Eagle Ford production would reach 1.2 million barrels of oil equivalent a day in 2015, with 750,000 of that being liquids.

“A long-time oil field axiom is that big fields tend to get bigger over time, and that’s certainly the case here,” EOG Chief Executive Officer Mark Papa told investors during a Feb. 17 conference call. “This continues to be the hottest and highest reinvestment rate-of-return play in North America.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Edward Klump in Houston at eklump@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan Warren at susanwarren@bloomberg.net

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Exxon Shale Failure in Poland May Lengthen Gazprom’s Shadow

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By Joe Carroll

Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM)’s failed shale-gas wells in Poland may hobble the nation’s effort to become one of the world’s major energy sources and dismantle Russian dominance of Eastern European natural-gas markets.

Exxon, the world’s largest energy company by market value, said two exploratory wells drilled in a Polish shale formation last year weren’t commercially viable. The gas discovered in the wells, Exxon’s first in Poland, failed to flow in sufficient quantities to justify bringing them into production, David Rosenthal, vice president for investor relations, said during a conference call yesterday.

International energy prospectors, including Marathon Oil Corp. (MRO), Chevron Corp. (CVX) and Talisman Energy Inc. (TLM), are probing Poland’s shale deposits to see if drilling techniques that revolutionized U.S. gas production can unleash reserves big enough to supply Polish demand for more than three centuries. Exxon’s setbacks suggest Poland’s shale poses unique challenges that may increase costs and delay output, said Gianna Bern, founder of Brookshire Advisory & Research in Chicago.

“Shale exploration is a very high-cost and high-risk business and the Polish shale market is still in its infancy,” Bern, who advises major oil companies on risk management and strategy, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “It’s early in the game for Poland, and they have significant potential reserves over there.”

Reduce Imports

Poland’s shale formations hold 187 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas, according to an April 2011 assessment by the U.S. Energy Department. Those resources are 32 times larger than the country’s conventional gas reserves and enough to supply domestic consumption for 322 years.

For Poland, successfully unlocking gas from shale would be a boon to domestic manufacturers and power producers by diminishing the need for Russian imports that now supply two- thirds of demand, said Benjamin Schlesinger, president of Benjamin Schlesinger and Associates Inc., a Bethesda, Maryland- based adviser to gas producers, utilities, regulators and financial-services firms.

Poland’s dominant gas company, Polskie Gornictwo Naftowe i Gazownictwo, pays Russia’s state gas company Gazprom OAO (GAZP) $500 for 1,000 cubic meters ($14.16 per million British thermal units) of gas. That’s six times the benchmark U.S. price for the fuel.

Poor Wells

“Poland’s shale resources are enormous,” said Schlesinger, a Stanford University-trained engineer who helped the New York Mercantile Exchange design its gas futures contract. “Poland should be able to capture a good deal of those resources and reduce reliance on the Russian Federation.”

Gazprom’s depositary receipts rose 2.5 percent to $12.40, the highest closing price since Oct. 28. The London-listed receipts each are worth two ordinary shares in the Moscow-based company.

Exxon’s failures followed disappointing results at Polish wells drilled last year by 3Legs Resources Plc and BNK Petroleum Inc. (BKX) London-based 3Legs’s Lebien well and BNK’s Lebork well flowed at lower rates than similar prospects in the Barnett and Fayetteville shale regions in the U.S., Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. said in a Nov. 10 note to clients.

“Poland is cited among Europe’s best shale prospects, but Exxon’s result supports our caution on achieving material near- term volumes,” Oswald Clint, a London-based analyst at Bernstein, said in a note today.

Even so, it may be too early to draw any firm conclusions from Exxon’s drilling failure, said Pawel Poprawa, who specializes in shale at the Polish Geological Institute in Warsaw.

‘Technological Problem’

“If we look at the experience from the U.S. or Canada, no single well can provide the answer if the basin has potential or not,” he said. “Low flows seem to be a technological problem.”

Marathon Oil said today that it’s evaluating data after finishing its first well in a Polish shale formation. The Houston-based company said in a statement that it intends to drill three more wells during the next few months and withdraw rock samples for testing. Marathon plans a total of six to seven Polish shale wells this year, according to the release.

The Polish shale results come after Exxon encountered a dry hole in Hungary in late 2009 drilled in a tight-sand deposit similar to shale. Exxon walked away from the $75 million project after striking more water than gas.

Exxon and other major North American energy producers have been lured to explore shale prospects from Germany to Argentina after largely missing out on the boom in shale extraction in the U.S. that began in the middle of the last decade.

Smaller Explorers

Smaller explorers such as EOG Resources Inc. (EOG), Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK) and Range Resources Corp. (RRC) came to dominate the U.S. shale industry by default as the biggest international companies focused on locating billion-barrel offshore crude fields in places like the Gulf of Mexico and West Africa.

Shale formations were ignored by much of the energy industry for most of the past century because the rocks were considered too hard to crack using traditional drilling techniques. That began to change in the late 1990s with the development of new horizontal drilling practices and more- intensive hydraulic fracturing that succeeded in unlocking gas and crude from shale and similarly dense geologic deposits.

‘Attractive Fiscal Terms’

Exxon sought to jump-start its shale program in June 2010 with the $34.9 billion acquisition of XTO Energy, a Fort Worth, Texas-based pioneer of shale development. In addition to shale wells and undrilled prospects that stretch from the Mexican border to Canada, Exxon wanted to transfer XTO’s in-house expertise to foreign shale fields.

Exxon hasn’t disclosed its plans for further drilling in Poland. The shares rose 0.3 percent to $83.97 at the close in New York.

Poland has led European shale exploration by virtue of its tempting geology and by offering “attractive fiscal terms” to prospectors, the Energy Department in Washington said in a September report.

Still, a “likely aggressive tax burden” to be imposed on shale-gas producers may damp investor enthusiasm, analysts at Bank Zachodni WBK SA, based in Wroclaw, Poland, said yesterday in a note to clients.

Polish drilling also has been hindered by a scarcity of rigs, water and specialized equipment needed for shale wells, Bern said.

“Getting the things you need to drill these wells is much more difficult in Poland than in the United States, where the shale industry is very well-developed,” Bern said.

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Marubeni Buys Eagle Ford Shale Assets (USA)

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Marubeni Corporation announced that Marubeni Eagle Ford Limited Partnership, a U.S. subsidiary of Marubeni, has entered into an agreement with Dallas based Hunt Oil Company, one of the world’s largest privately-owned independent oil and gas companies, to acquire a 35% working interest in the Eagle Ford shale oil and gas play covering approximately 52,000 net acres of oil and gas leases located in Texas.

The Project has plans for several hundred wells to be sequentially drilled for 5 – 10 years, with total development costs (including acquisition costs on Marubeni’s share basis) of approximately U.S.$ 1.3 billion. In addition, Marubeni and Hunt have agreed to jointly acquire additional acreage in the Eagle Ford shale oil and gas area.

The Eagle Ford oil and gas shale play currently produces high-quality light crude oil, and is one of the most attractive and promising shale oil and gas resource plays in the U.S. Marubeni said that it believes that this Project, including future expansion and the potential new businesses associated with it, will become a solid base for Marubeni providing a strong cash flow and profit on the mid- to long-term basis. The company’s position in the Eagle Ford is believed to be prospective, and Hunt, the operator of this Project, has extensive experience and expertise in the development and operation of a number of oil and gas shale plays including the Bakken located in North Dakota in the United States.

Marubeni has positioned its energy and mineral resources business, including oil and gas exploration and development, as a strategically important business area, and has already been involved in projects in the Gulf of Mexico, the North Sea (U.K.), India, Qatar and the Niobrara Shale Oil (U.S.), which started its initial oil production in October, 2011. As the result of this Project, Marubeni’s total acreage for shale oil play is approximately 72,000 net acres, which makes Marubeni the largest acreage holder among Japanese firms.

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Genesis Energy to Buy U.S. Gulf of Mexico Pipelines from Marathon

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Genesis Energy, L.P.  announced yesterday that it has entered into definitive agreements to acquire from Marathon Oil Company interests in several Gulf of Mexico crude oil pipeline systems, including its 28% interest in Poseidon Oil Pipeline Company, L.L.C., its 29% interest in Odyssey Pipeline L.L.C., and its 23% interest in the Eugene Island Pipeline System.

Marathon Oil Company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Marathon Oil Corporation . The Poseidon and Odyssey interests are subject to the expiration or waiver of rights of first refusal, and Genesis is not obligated to consummate any transaction unless it is ultimately successful in acquiring the interest in Poseidon. Additionally, Marathon Oil has the right to dispose of certain of the other oil pipeline assets prior to any final closing of a transaction with Genesis.

The purchase consideration for all of the assets, subject to usual and customary adjustments for debt, working capital, etc., is $205.76 million, which includes an estimated $29 million valuation of crude oil line fill at current market prices owned by the interests to be acquired. Genesis intends to finance the transaction with the more than $400 million of funds available under its revolving credit facility and expects the transaction to close before year end.

The Poseidon system is comprised of a 367-mile network of crude oil pipelines, varying in diameter from 16 to 24 inches, with capacity to deliver approximately 400,000 barrels per day of crude oil from developments in the central and western offshore Gulf of Mexico to other pipelines and terminals onshore and offshore Louisiana. Affiliates of Enterprise Products Partners L.P. and Shell Oil Company each own a 36% interest in Poseidon. An affiliate of Enterprise will continue in its role as operator of Poseidon.

The Odyssey system is comprised of a 120-mile network of crude oil pipelines, varying in diameter from 12 to 20 inches, with capacity to deliver up to 300,000 barrels per day of crude oil from developments in the eastern Gulf of Mexico to other pipelines and terminals onshore Louisiana. An affiliate of Shell owns the remaining 71% interest in Odyssey. An affiliate of Shell will continue to serve as the operator.

The Eugene Island Pipeline System is comprised of a 183-mile network of crude oil pipelines, the main pipeline of which is 20 inches in diameter, with capacity to deliver approximately 200,000 barrels per day of crude oil from developments in the central Gulf of Mexico to other pipelines and terminals onshore Louisiana. Other owners in Eugene Island include affiliates of Exxon-Mobil, Chevron-Texaco, ConocoPhillips and Shell Oil Company. An affiliate of Shell will continue to serve as the operator.

“This acquisition represents another exciting growth opportunity for Genesis,” said Grant Sims, Genesis’ Chief Executive Officer. “These pipelines, especially Poseidon, would complement our existing infrastructure in the Gulf of Mexico, and enhance our ability to provide attractive capacity and market optionality to producers for their existing and future developments as well as our refining customers onshore Texas and Louisiana. The Gulf of Mexico is an important and growing resource basin in the U.S. that we are convinced will be safely, responsibly and efficiently developed for many years to come.”

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US: ConocoPhillips and Marathon to close Kenai LNG plant after 41 years

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ConocoPhillips said Thursday that it is planning to shut down the Kenai liquefied-natural-gas (LNG) export plant in Alaska due to deteriorating market conditions.

‘The Kenai LNG Plant has played an important role in our company’s history for more than 40 years. But with current market conditions and the changes in natural gas supply, continued operation as an export facility is not economically viable at this time,’ said John Roper, a ConocoPhillips spokesman.

Marathon Oil is the co-owner of the plant, which for more than four decades has shipped LNG to Japan. The plant will no longer export gas starting this spring as the two companies were unable to renew their supply contracts with Tokyo Gas and Tokyo Electric (Tepco).

ConocoPhillips said it was considering importing liquefied natural gas to Alaska in the future.

Kenai LNG

The Kenai LNG Plant began operating in 1969, after the nearby North Cook Inlet gas field, which is operated from the Tyonek platform, was discovered in 1962. It remains the only LNG export plant of domestic production in North America. All LNG produced at the plant is sold via contracts with two Japanese utilities. The Kenai LNG plant also plays a key role in serving the natural gas needs of Southcentral Alaska by providing critical additional deliverability to the local market during peak demand and emergency situations.

Source: energy-pedia

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