Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 28th 2013 Contents 6
Dr Krishna Persad
This article examines the state
of the upstream portion of the
energy industry i.e. as it is re-
lated to exploration and produc-
tion, current production levels of
oil and gas, current activity and
gives an outlook for the future
(short, medium and longer term.
This outlook is based on the au-
thor's assessment of the
prospectivity of the various
basins of the T&T area as well as
expectations of acreage availabil-
ity going forward.
I shall first look at gas and then, more briefly at oil, al-
though there will be some overlap when dealing with
prospects in undrilled areas where it is uncertain whether oil
and/or gas will be found.
CURRENT GAS PRODUCTION
Gas production has averaged 4,262 billion cubic feet of
gas per day (bcfgd) for 2013 to date (to end of August...
data from Ministry of Energy web-site). This is about nor-
mal and in fact slightly higher than that of 2012. Recent lev-
els have been depressed somewhat because of major
upgrade work that was successfully done on various plat-
forms in the East Coast Marine Area (ECMA). See link to
report by Minister Kevin Ramnarine:
Gas production more or less matches demand and I ex-
pect current levels to be maintained going forward without
major problems. Readers may recall the Ryder Scott report
for 2012 which showed what were (to me) reassuring num-
bers, particularly the continuing high potential in prospec-
tive but unexplored areas and this excludes many so called
Let us look at some of the reasons for optimism.
IN AND AROUND PRODUCING AREAS
In the ECMA there are four main operators, BHP Billiton,
bpTT, BGTT and EOG all of whom are either bringing on
new production or finding new reserves in areas near to
producing fields. For example:
• bpTT has recently announced the discovery of over one
TCF of gas in the Savonette area with the expectation of
more to come (based on new technology seismic)
• EOG has just completed a drilling programme in Osprey
and plans additional wells in Oilbird in 2014
• BHP Billiton's Angostura Field has only within the past
couple years started production of its gas as opposed to
re-injecting it and is assured of production levels over
200 MMCFD for years to come.
In the NCMA Centrica has just completed a very success-
ful appraisal drilling programme in its block 22 and Iris Field
areas. In addition we expect exploration drilling to be con-
ducted by Niko in and near the proven gas trends to be suc-
KNOWN BUT UNDEVELOPED DISCOVERIES
We are all aware that there is about 2.5 TCF of gas dis-
covered but undeveloped in the cross-border area with
We have also read about progress that has been made in
talks and negotiations with Venezuela. While I do not ex-
pect a short term solution, I am sure a deal will be ham-
mered out in due course and that gas will become available
to the system.
In mid 2013 both BHP Billiton and bpTT were awarded
blocks in deep water areas. See Figure 1 for location of
BHP was awarded four blocks (5, 6, 28 and 29) in what
Minister Ramnarine termed "frontier areas" (see link;
A consortium of bpTT and EOG was shortly after
awarded two blocks in the deep waters off the ECMA. (See
new-deepwater-blocks)...23 (a) and TTDAA14
These are indeed frontier areas yet undrilled. But all of
the blocks lie within known prospective trends with signifi-
cant potential for gas, although the jury is still out as to
whether oil and or condensate will also be found.
UNEXPLORED AREAS YET TO BE OFFERED
There is a frontier area in undrilled waters off the east
coast of Trinidad which extends as far north as Barbados
termed by me as the "Zone of Toe Thrust Thrusting" and
forms part of the Accretionary Complex.
Technical language aside suffice it to stay that I have said
in the book I compiled in late 2011 entitled "The Petroleum
Geology and Geochemistry of Trinidad and Tobago" that
this area has huge potential for both oil and gas and cited
the deep water Niger Delta, where major discoveries of oil
as well as gas and condensate have been made, as a close
More recently and even more encouraging nearly 100 TCF
of gas has been discovered in a similar analogous trend off-
shore Mozambique and Tanzania. While most of the Toe
Thrust Zone lies outside of T&T waters (see Figure Two)
there is enough prospective acreage within our area to
make prospects for oil and gas there exciting.
CURRENT OIL PRODUCTION
While we generally refer to oil production we are actually
most of the time combining oil and condensate production.
(Condensate is the very light liquid often produced in asso-
ciation with natural gas).
Oil production (with condensate) has in recent times, hov-
ered around 80,000 bpd, averaging 81,175 bpd for 2013 to
end August. This was slightly less than the average for 2012
of 81,735 bopd. But both were significantly down from a
production of 144,375 bpd, the year the Angostura field
came fully on stream. While there are signs of a minor re-
covery, August 2013 production was 84,177 bpd, I agree
with Minister Ramnarine who believes that significant in-
creases while on the cards will take some time.
Why do we both believe that it is just a matter of time for
increases to come? Let us look at the prospects for produc-
tion increases. First there is significant potential in the "Fold
and Thrust Belt" onshore South Trinidad and extending into
the offshore west and north-east.
Secondly, there is potential for unconventional oil in the
Cretaceous age rocks, which sourced all of the oil that we
have produced to date, in the onshore, where it is shallow
enough and where the structure is not too broken up by
faulting. Thirdly the "Zone of Toe Thrusting" which I men-
tioned earlier is prospective for oil as wells as gas and gas
condensate. While the potential for new reserves is high...
perhaps one billion barrels recoverable in the onshore por-
tion of the Fold and Thrust Belt" alone...exploration here
and in the frontier areas will take time.
The recent onshore Bid Round, the first in 15 years (ac-
cording to Minister Ramnarine), which saw 11 bids on
three blocks and the award to Beach Oilfield Limited
(BOLT) of a Private Mineral Rights License onshore the
South Western Peninsula will help to shorten that time
I consider all of these four blocks to be highly prospec-
tive for oil. The BOLT Block I believe could by itself hold
500 million barrels of recoverable oil. (My family hopes as I
am right, as we are the investors in this project...albeit
small, as does Leni Gas and Oil, who are joining us in its ex-
There is however, potential for as much as three billion
barrels of oil which are known to exist in the more or less
depleted oilfields that have been on production for many
years, some more than one hundred years.
The vast majority of these oilfields has seen no en-
hanced oil recovery and yet they have together produced
almost 4 billion barrels of oil to date. Reservoir engineers
advise us that this means about 12 billion barrels have
been left behind in the ground, with all of the infrastruc-
ture still in place and that perhaps another 3 billion barrels
is economically recoverable at today's prices.
In addition, as I have said many times before, a potential
perhaps ideal recovery mechanism is carbon dioxide, a
product we produce and waste in abundance, as a by-prod-
uct of our ammonia production, from our natural gas
based manufacturing and from our electricity generation.
Petrotrin has recently sent out invitations for companies
to apply for pre-qualification for a "Mature Field Rehabili-
tation" programme it is attempting to initiate. It is to be
hoped that the structure of the Petrotrin offering enables
EOR to be effectively carried out and that it includes carbon
dioxide (as being the 6th highest per capita emitter of it in
the world; we desperately need to reduce our emissions)
and that it includes companies of all sizes in the spectrum
of awards, especially the smaller ones.
We have already seen that these smaller companies have
been the ones that have taken over the mantle of leader-
ship in land and near-shore oil production within the last 20
years. NGC is itself moving to providing CO2 to onshore
fields for EOR (sequestration follows almost automati-
cally)...and I expect Petrotrin will be working with them to
access CO2 in those fields earmarked for rehabilitation.
Space does not allow me to fully explore fully the oil pic-
ture in this article but this will be done in the next issue of
this publication. As always, the above remarks are meant to
be in the best interests of the country and the energy indus-
try and there are no political implications intended or implied.
• Dr. Krishna Persad is a Petroleum Consultant and Inde-
pendent Oil Producer and a keen artist specialising in por-
traits in black and white. (The self portrait provided is an
example of his work).
Geologic Tectonic Map of T&T annotated (compiled by K. Persad 2003).
Ministry of Energy Acreage Map.
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