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Ophir targets 2019 start-up for Equatorial Guinea's FLNG

Another substantial gas discovery was made in September, which has raised the planned capacity of the unit

UK-based Ophir Energy is targeting start-up of a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in Equatorial Guinea in early 2019, after making another substantial gas discovery in September. The company has moved away from earlier plans to send its gas to the country's existing LNG complex or to build a new onshore train, and says it has raised the planned capacity of the floating unit.

Ophir made the latest find with the Silenus East-1 well, drilled in Block R, west of Bioko island, which passed through a gas column of 67 metres gross. The well discovered 11.5 billion cubic metres (cm) and de-risked similar prospects nearby, leading Ophir to estimate that the Silenus area holds about 34bn cm. 

The well also found weak oil shows at a lower level, which the firm plans to evaluate further. Ophir has moved its drillship, Vantage Drilling's Titanium Explorer, to the nearby Fortuna complex to drill the Fortuna-2 appraisal well and to carry out the first flow-test in Block R. 

Following the discovery, the firm raised its estimate of reserves in the block to 96.3bn cm recoverable, including reserves in the de-risked structures. In addition to the 34bn cm in Silenus, there is an estimated 36.8bn cm in the Fortuna complex, only 5 km away, while the Tonel find, about 15 km to the northeast, holds 14.2bn cm. Smaller finds hold 11.3bn cm.

With the increase in reserves, Ophir has raised its target capacity for the floating LNG facility from 2.5 million tonnes a year (t/y) to 3m t/y - providing 'economies of scale that increase the value of this already-economic project', the firm says. A floating LNG scheme will be aided by the gas characteristics - it is dry, so there is no condensate to transport - and by the benign sea conditions in the Gulf of Guinea. 

Ophir expects to reach an agreement with the government on gas terms and to confirm partners for the LNG scheme in the year's fourth quarter. Press reports quoting a government source have tipped US firm Excelerate Energy as a participant - the firm has developed floating regasification technology and wants to move into floating LNG.

Block R lies adjacent to the border with Nigerian waters, and therefore close to a number of large fields including Usan and Ukot. Water-depths extend from 600 metres to 1,950 metres. Ophir holds the block in an 80:20 venture with the state's GEPetrol, whose share is carried until a declaration of commerciality. 

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