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At a press conference on 4 April, chaired by Oil Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al-Khalifa supported by Bapco Exploration Manager Yahya Alansari, and with representatives of Degolyer and McNaughton, Schlumberger and Halliburton in attendance, more details were given of the major discovery first flagged on 1 April.

 Bahrain’s Higher Committee for Natural Resources and Economic Security, chaired by Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, had announced 1 April 2018 that there had been a “highly significant” offshore discovery of tight oil and deep gas in the Khaleej Al Bahrain Basin, which extends off the west and south-west coast. The exact location has so far not been revealed; however in 2016 operating company BAPCO let a turnkey contract to Schlumberger for drilling and testing 2 exploratory wells, and was operating the “Key Hawaii” jack up in the extreme south of the Bahraini sector in the period from mid-March to mid-October 2017 when it moved off location. The rig was subsequently operating to the east of Bahrain, close to the Qatar border.

Major offshore Bahrain discovery 80 Bb oil in-place plus 13 Tcf gas in place

Figure 1 – Khaleej al Bahrain basin location

Major offshore Bahrain discovery 80 Bb oil in-place plus 13 Tcf gas in place

Figure 2 – Bahrain Stratigraphy & Petroleum Systems. Source: Bapco

The Minister said that the discovery was of tight oil, amounting to 80 Bb in-place (with associated gas of 13.7 Tcf), and also with deeper gas amounting to 10-20 Tcf in-place. DeGolyer and MacNaughton Senior Vice president, Dr John Hornbrook, added that the 80 Bb figure was a P50 estimate. No well-name has been given, but the generic name is the 2000 sq km “Khaleej al Bahrain” basin, which extends around the west and south of the island. It is thought that the 80 Bbo figure applies to the entire resource play.

Bapco Exploration Manager, Mr Yahya Alansari, added that “the presence of a layer with moderate conventional reservoir properties on top of an organic-rich source rock creates a unique self-sourcing and trapping system, enhancing production and economic viability. The confirmation of this significant resource highlights the vast E&P potential and opportunities in Bahrain.”

Earlier Bapco technical documents suggest the oil may be reservoired in Hanifa-Tuwaiq Mountain Formations (Jurassic). In 2012, light oil (43 deg API) was recovered from the Hanifa-Tuwaiq Mountain Formation source rock interval, establishing the potential for unconventional plays.

The source rock for the Pre-Khuff gas is the Silurian Qusaiba Formation – which is geographically extensive. Thermal history modelling suggests gas generation in the Oligocene-Miocene. Deep (Pre-Khuff) gas has long been an identified target under the onshore Bahrain Field, and it is possible the figures for the current find conflate the offshore with the onshore potential. In 2016, NOGA was seeking international partners for onshore exploration, to replace Oxy and Mubadala, which pulled out.

Next steps

The Minister said that two appraisal wells had been agreed for 2018, which will be operated by Halliburton. No mention has been made of blanket 3D seismic coverage. Operating company Bapco is already in discussions with IOCs and major service companies on partnerships to exploit the resources. To date, worldwide, no unconventional resources have been exploited offshore. However, an optimistic production start date of 2022-2023 has been touted. The Minister added that one could expect the resources to support oil production of 200,000 b/d and gas of 1 Bcf/d.

Bid Round

At the ADIPEC Conference in 2016, Bapco announced an acreage offer for 2017-2018, offering four offshore areas CA 1, CA 2, CA 3 and CA 4 for Joint Study Agreements. The extent of the resource play coincides roughly with CA 2 (2228 sq km) to the west of the island and CA 4 (1478 sq km) to the south of the island. In CA 3, 9 wells have been drilled, with 3 TDing in the Khuff; in CA 4 (described as “the unconventional hot-spot”), seven wells have been drilled to date with oil shows, with one penetrating the Khuff.

Major offshore Bahrain discovery 80 Bb oil in-place plus 13 Tcf gas in place

Figure 3 Bahrain future Offshore Licensing Round

 

 

 

 

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