The deepwater Cuica field, located in block 15/06 offshore Angola, came on stream in July 2021. Image courtesy of Bumi Armada Berhad.
The Cuica-1 wildcat well was drilled by the Libongos drillship. Image courtesy of DSME Co.,Ltd.
The Cuica field is tied back to the Armada Olombendo FPSO. Image courtesy of Eni.

The deepwater oil field, Cuica, located in block 15/06 offshore Angola, commenced production in July 2021.

Eni Angola, a subsidiary of Italian oil and gas major Eni, is the operator of the field and holds a 36.84% interest in Angola’s deep offshore block 15/06.

The other development partners are Sonangol Pesquisa & Produção (P&P), a subsidiary of Angola’s state-owned Sonangol, which holds 36.84% interest, and SSI Fifteen, a subsidiary of Sonangol Sinopec International (SSI), which holds the remaining 26.32% interest in the block.

The Cuica field has been developed as a subsea tieback to the Armada Olombendo floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel, which is also operated by Eni in block 15/06.

Location, discovery and reservoir details

The Cuica oil field is located in 500m-deep waters in the eastern part of Eni-operated block 15/06, approximately 350km north-west of Luanda, Angola.

The deepwater oil field was discovered through the drilling of the Cuica-1 new field wildcat (NFW) well on the Cuica exploration prospect within the Cabaca Development Area, in March 2021. The Cuica-1 NFW well was the second oil discovery in the Cabaca Development Area.

Drilled to a total vertical depth of 4,100m, the Cuica-1 discovery well encountered an 80m light oil column in sandstones of the Miocene age.

The Cuica-1 well was drilled as part of Eni’s infrastructure-led exploration strategy (ILX) to tap oil resources in areas closer to its existing infrastructure so that production could be fast-tracked with lesser investment.

The Cuica oil field is estimated to contain between 200 and 250 million barrels (Mbl) of light oil with API gravity of 38°.

Cuica field development details

The initial Cuica field development comprises an oil production well and a water injection well connected to the existing Cabaca North subsea production system, which is tied back to the Armada Olombendo FPSO.

Armada Olombendo FPSO details

The Armada Olombendo FPSO that lies approximately 3km away from the Cuica field has been operating in block 15/06 of the Angolan deep offshore since February 2017. It is chartered to Eni Angola by Malaysia’s Bumi Armada.

Measuring 335m-long, 58m-wide and 31.2m-deep, the FPSO has a crude oil production capacity of 80,000 barrels a day (bpd), a gas compression capacity of 3.4 million cubic metres a day (Mcmd), and a water injection capacity of 120,000bpd. It has an oil storage capacity of 1.7 million barrels.

The Cabaca, Cabaca South East, and UM8 fields in block 15/06 are also tied back to the Olombendo FPSO. Furthermore, the FPSO is expected to receive production from the Cabaca North field in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Contractors involved in the Cuica offshore oil project

Sonadrill, a joint venture between Seadrill (50%) and Sonangol (50%), was contracted for drilling the Cuica-1 well. The drillship Libongos, owned by Sonangol and bareboat-chartered into Sonadrill, was deployed to drill the Cuica-1 well.

Seadrill manages and operates the Libongos drillship on behalf of Sonadrill.

Production hubs in Angola’s block 15/06

The block 15/06 comprises mainly two production hubs, namely the West Hub and the East Hub,  which commenced production in late 2014 and February 2017, respectively. The N’Goma FPSO, capable of processing 100,000 barrels of oil and 115 million cubic feet (Mcf) of gas a day, handles production in the West Hub, while the Olombendo FPSO serves the East Hub fields.

The combined production from the two hubs averaged at 123,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day (boed) in 2020.

A third production hub on the block 15/06 is also planned to be developed incorporating the Agogo field, which commenced production through a tieback to the N’Goma FPSO in January 2020.

In 2020, the block 15/06 exploration license was renewed for a period of three years until November 2023.

Eni and BP were exploring the possibility of incorporating a new joint venture to combine their upstream assets in Angola, according to a joint announcement made in May 2021.