The Van Gogh oil project offshore Australia consists of the Van Gogh, Coniston, and the Novara oil fields. Santos is the operator and holds a 52.5% stake in the project, while the remaining 47.5% interest is held by Inpex Alpha, a subsidiary of Japan’s Inpex Corporation.
The Van Gogh oil project involves subsea tie-back of the three fields to a floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) vessel.
The field development partners made a final investment decision on the Van Gogh infill development phase II project at the Van Gogh field in March 2020. The first well of the three new production wells planned to be drilled as part of the phase II project started operations in July 2021. It has achieved peak production of 23,200 barrels of oil a day.
Santos acquired a 52.5% stake in the Van Gogh oil project and assumed operatorship of the field after acquiring Quadrant Energy in November 2018.
Location, discovery, and reservoir details
The Van Gogh, Coniston, and the Novara offshore oil fields are located in Exmouth Basin, north of North West Cape, Western Australia. The water depths in the project area range from 340m to 400m and each of the three fields contains heavy crude oil.
Discovered in 2003, the Van Gogh field situated in permit area WA‐35‐L commenced production in February 2010. The Coniston and Novara fields, located in the adjacent production license WA‐55‐L, were brought on stream in May 2015 and July 2016 respectively.
The Van Gogh infill phase II project targets additional reserves of approximately 10 million barrels.
The Van Gogh, Coniston, and the Novara field development comprises multiple subsea production wells, injection wells, and associated infrastructure tied back to the Ningaloo Vision FPSO. The Van Gogh field is developed with two subsea production manifolds, while the Coniston and the Novara fields have one subsea production manifold each.
The Van Gogh infill phase I project, which involved the development of two new dual-lateral production wells, produced the first oil in January 2019. The Van Gogh infill phase II project involves drilling three horizontal, dual-lateral production wells, and the installation of associated subsea infrastructure for its tie-back to the FPSO.
Ningaloo Vision FPSO
Located approximately 40km north of North West Cape, the Santos-operated Ningaloo Vision FPSO measures 244m-long, 42m-wide, and 24m-deep. It has an oil processing capacity of 63,000 barrels a day (bpd), produced water disposal capacity of 147,000bpd, along with nominal gas re-injection/lift rates of 80 million cubic feet a day (mcfd). The FPSO has an oil storage capacity of 649,883 barrels.
The produced oil from the FPSO is transported in shuttle tankers to the shore, while the produced water and gas are reinjected into the reservoir.
Operating since 2010, the FPSO is located approximately 8km south of the Coniston and Novara fields. It resumed production at the Van Gogh oil project in March 2021 following a scheduled maintenance programme from April 2020 to February 2021 in Singapore.
Recently awarded contracts for the Van Gogh oil project
Valaris was awarded a three-well drilling contract for the Van Gogh infill development phase II project by Santos in 2020.
Valaris MS-1 semi-submersible mobile offshore drilling unit (MODU) started drilling operations at the Van Gogh field in May 2021.
While the first well commenced production in July 2021, the drilling of the remaining two wells is expected to be completed in the second half of 2021.