Norwegian operator Equinor’s focus on Brazilian deepwater exploration continued through September 2018 with the spud of a new appraisal well in the Carcara Field in the pre-salt Santos Basin. The appraisal is being drilled on the back of a possible commercial discovery on the Guanxuma prospect announced July. The company is currently producing around 65,000 barrels of oil per from the Peregrino Field in the Campos Basin but is targeting 300,000 to 500,000 a day from the country by 2030 with US$ 15 billion of investments planned.
Equinor, formerly Statoil, on 13 September 2018, spud the 3EQNR1SPS outpost well on the Norte de Carcara Block in the Santos Basin. The West Saturn rig is drilling the well in 2,052m of water. The well has a planned total depth of 6,669m and is called Carcara West based on its location to help define the western part of Carcara Field. Objectives of the well are assumed as the pre-salt Barra Velha Formation or the coquinas of the Itapema Formation. Equinor announced plans on 5 September 2018, to begin drilling on the Norte de Carcará Block by the end of 2018, after the drilling and testing phase on the Guanxuma sidetracks were finished. However, just eight days later the current outpost was spud on Norte de Carcara by the same rig being used for the Guanxuma program indicating that the sidetracks following the discovery may have been unsuccessful. The company received a license to drill up to five wells on the Norte de Carcara Block from Ibama in early September. These recently licensed wells can be added to the seven that have already been licensed in Carcará to make a possible 12 well drilling program for the field. The unification of the two blocks into a single field should be approved in 2019 or 2020, according to the Equinor senior VP. First oil is still scheduled for 2023 or 2024 but could be impacted by the final plans of Equinor to develop the Guanxuma discovery or not. The spud by Equinor of the first well in Norte de Carcara is also the first well drilled by the company or any company other than Petrobras, under the production sharing contract regime in Brazil. The Carcara Block is adjacent to Norte de Carcara, which was acquired in the second production sharing round in 2017.
In July 2018, Equinor announced the 1STAT10ASPS new field wildcat on the pre-salt BM-S-8 Block in the Santos Basin had discovered hydrocarbons, calling the discovery, “promising”. The well on the Guanxuma prospect was spud on 29 April and was drilled to 6,600m with Seadrill’s West Saturn drillship in 1,990m water depth. It is assumed to be suspended as a potential oil discovery since the rig began drilling a geologic sidetrack on 30 July, followed by a third well from the same surface location with the same planned total depth, indicating potential problems with the first sidetrack. Both sidetracks are now finished drilling and neither is yet on record as filing an oil or gas show report with the ANP which is mandatory if oil or gas shows are encountered. This could give credence to an unconfirmed rumor in the industry that the Guanxuma discovery was disappointing. Guanxuma had pre-drill estimates of 700 MMbo to 1.3 Bboe in recoverable reserves and is located on the other end of the BM-S-8 Block from the pre-salt Carcará Field, which is already estimated to have 2 Bboe recoverable. Equinor operates the block with 36.5% with partners ExxonMobil (36.5%), Petrogal (17%) and Barra Energia (10%). A unitization of the Carcará Block with the Norte de Carcará Block, which is currently undrilled but through seismic analysis is interpreted to include roughly half of the Carcara Field, is ultimately expected. Both Equinor and ExxonMobil are in the process of raising their stakes in the project to 40% before 2019, while Petrogal’s interest will climb to 20% and Barra Energia will leave.