Trident Energy did not have long drilling off Equatorial Guinea before having to stop, as problems emerged on the Island Innovator drilling rig.
Trident’s general manager, Pierre Capo, and his technical team briefed Equatorial Guinea Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons Antonio Oburu Ondo on the problems on February 7.
The Island Innovator arrived in Equatorial Guinea on November 1, 2023. Work on the drilling campaign began on January 22.
Ondo reported that there were “serious problems” with the blowout preventer (BOP).
On Linkedin, he said the equipment failed to “respond to control commands to open or close valves as needed”. This lack of control could lead to a serious accident should they fail during drilling, he said. This is particularly dangerous when “hydrocarbons have already been found in the reservoir” and the BOP might be needed to control the release of oil or gas to the surface.
Ondo said the ministry was working with Trident to verify the problems with the BOP and considering safe alternatives.
An official at partner Kosmos Energy (NYSE: KOS) confirmed in an email the problems with Island Innovator. Trident has “sent a notice of termination to the contractor, Island Drilling, based on performance issues with the Island Innovator drilling rig,” he said.
The partners have decided to defer the drilling programme offshore Equatorial Guinea, until they can find another rig and drilling contractor.
“We’re eager to complete the three infill wells and drill the Akeng Deep ILX well as soon as possible. However, we will not proceed until we are confident the work will be completed in a safe, reliable, and environmentally sound manner.”
Trident and Island Drilling, the rig owner, have not yet responded to requests for comment, which came outside business hours.
Panoro Energy (OSE: PEN) confirmed the delays to the drill programme. The Norwegian company raised the possibility of an alternative rig coming in during the second quarter for the work.
“Based on our current estimates, the pause in drilling is not expected to affect Panoro’s shareholder distributions, financial and operational targets for the year,” said Panoro CEO John Hamilton. “The postponement of the drilling campaign results in a more beneficial phasing of capital expenditures on a group-wide basis.”
The first of the new infill wells was due onstream by the end of the first quarter in 2024.
All three infill wells were expected to start up by mid year. The assets produced around 25,000 barrels per day gross in 2023. The three wells should have added another 10,000 bpd to this.
After the three-well campaign, the Island Innovator was to drill the Akeng Deep well in Block S. This was targeting an Albian play with a potential gross mean resource of 180 million barrels of oil.
Underscoring the case for Akeng Deep is its proximity to existing infrastructure in Block G.
According to Island Drilling, the Island Innovator is under contract throughout 2024 and into 2025.
Updated on February 9 at 10:04 am with Panoro update.