The Etame Marin block located offshore Gabon, along the Atlantic coast of Central Africa has been producing oil since 2002.

Vaalco Energy is the operator and holds a 63.6% participating interest in the offshore field complex, while the other development partners are Sinopec’s subsidiary Addax Petroleum (33.9%), and PetroEnergy (2.5%). Vaalco Energy earlier held a 33.6% interest in the project which was increased to 63.6% after acquired a 27.8% working interest from Sasol Gabon in February 2021.

The total crude production from the Etame Marin block during 2020 stood at approximately 6.57 million barrels compared with 4.7 million barrels in 2019.

The block has produced more than 120 million barrels of crude oil since its inception, while the remaining reserves and resources are estimated to be approximately 113 million barrels.

Location and field details

The Etame Marin block is located in the Congo Basin approximately 32km off the coast of Gabon. The license area is spread over five fields covering a total area of approximately 187km2.

The Etame Marin block consists of five producing fields namely, Avouma/South Tchibala, Ebouri, Etame, North Tchibala, and Southeast Etame. The water depth in the area ranges from 75m to 85m.

Elf discovered the South Tchibala and North Tchibala fields before Vaalco entered the block in July 1995. Vaalco and partners discovered the Etame field in 1998, Avouma and Ebouri fields in 2004, and the Southeast Etame field in 2011.

The Etame Marin block comprises the sandstones and shales of the Dentale and the Gamba Formations.

Etame Marin infrastructure

The Etame Marin block consists of 14 producing wells, including 11 platform wells and three subsea wells spread across five fields, four production platforms ( Etame, Avouma, Southeast Etame North Tchibala (SEENT), and Ebouri), as well as the Etame subsea manifold.

The well stream is transported via flowlines from the platforms and the Etame manifold to the Petróleo Nautipa floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) unit.

The FPSO has an oil processing capacity of up to 25,000bpd, a gas handling capacity of three million cubic feet (mcf) a day, and a storage capacity of approximately 1,075,000 barrels.

The drilling campaign during 2019-2020 resulted in three new development wells targeting the Gamba reservoir which increased the Etame block output by approximately 7,000bpd. The first development well, Etame 9H, started production in December 2019, followed by the second (Etame 11H) and the third (Southeast Etame 4H) wells in January 2020 and March 2020 respectively.

Separately, well workover operations were completed on two existing wells, Etame 10H and Southeast Etame 2H.

Recent developments in the Etame Marin Block

Omni Offshore Terminals entered into a non-binding letter of intent with Vaalco Energy to lease and operate a floating storage and offloading (FSO) unit for a period of 11 years at the Etame Marin block in April 2021. The FSO is likely to replace the existing Petróleo Nautipa FPSO, owned and operated by BW Offshore, when the contract expires in September 2022.

The new FSO is expected to reduce the operating costs of Vaalco Energy by 15-25% with the well stream planned to be processed in the existing platforms.

Vaalco also acquired new dual-azimuth proprietary 3-D seismic data covering approximately 1,000km2 in the Etame Marin block in December 2020. The processing of seismic data which began in January 2021 is expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2021.

In the next Etame drilling campaign, which is expected to start in late 2021 or early 2022, Vaalco anticipates drilling up to four new wells and increase the gross production capacity by up to 8,000bpd. The new seismic data will be utilised to determine the location of four wells, including two development wells and two appraisal wells.

Recently awarded contracts

BW Offshore was awarded a one-year contract extension for the lease and operation of the FPSO Petróleo Nautipa in July 2020. The contract is extended from the third quarter of 2021 to the third quarter of 2022. The FPSO Petróleo Nautipa has been deployed in the Etame Marin block since 2002.

P2021 Rig Co., a subsidiary of Vantage Drilling International, was awarded the contract for the drilling campaign in the block during 2019-2020. Vantage Drilling’s Topaz Driller jack-up rig was utilised for drilling the wells.

Polarcus bagged a contract for conducting a 3D seismic survey in the Etame Marin block. The Polarcus Adira seismic vessel was deployed to perform the 3D seismic survey over approximately 1,000km2 in the fourth quarter of 2020.