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East and West Hub: oil reserves off the coast of Angola

Innovative technologies and reduced time-to-market make this project launched in the country a model of the way we operate.

The potential of the area

The development program plans to hook up the blocks discoveries to two FPSO in order to support production plateau. Production start-up was achieved:

  • in 2021, the Cuica field, just four months after the discovery
  • the Cabaça North field through the linkage to the Armada Olombendo FPSO targeting to increase and to support production plateau of the area
  • in February 2022, the Ndung Early Production project by means of linkage to the Ngoma FPSO. The Ngoma FPSO is designed with treatment capacity of approximately 100 kbbl/day and with zero-water discharge and zero process flaring also through upgrading plant implemented in 2021, in line with Eni’s decarbonisation strategy to achieve net zero.

Production start-up confirms the success of the Infrastructure Led Exploration (ILX) campaign progressed in the Country also by means of a modular and simplified development approach ensuring a shortly time-to-market of the discoveries. Development activities concerned the Agogo Early Production Phase 2 development project with startup of construction activities relating to the planned offshore facilities. The full field development of the Agogo project provides for the construction of an additional FPSO. Concept definition studies and FEED activity were completed and started up the activities for the assigning main contracts. Exploration Exploration activities yielded positive in 2021 through the Cuica-1 oil discovery in the Cabaça developmentarea, so to extend the residual useful life of the FPSO which operates the block and in March 2022 with the Ndungu-2 delineation well which allows to boost to 800-1,000 million boe in place the field resources. 

Aboard the Olombendo: photo gallery

The floating production and storage unit (FPSO) used at the East Hub can produce up to 80,000 barrels of oil and compress up to 3.4 million cubic metres of gas per day.

Safety first

Safety at work is a core value – one we share with employees, contractors and local communities. That is why we do everything we can to avoid accidents, including developing organisational models to assess and manage risks, implementing training, developing expertise and promoting a culture of safety. 

Technology

The discoveries in Angola show the effectiveness of our exploration technology. Seismic imaging, for example, lets us acquire data and high-resolution 3D images from the subsoil, while the Subsea Multiphase Boosting System (SMBS) is a pumping system installed deep under water. Gravity Gradiometry provides valuable information on rock types in the area.

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SMBS is our multi-phase pumping system installed at great depths offshore.

How we face the challenges

In Block 15/06, we have implemented a working strategy based on aspects of our Upstream model. This differs from our conventional strategy in that it integrates and overlays the exploration and development phases using a fast-track approach to predict cash flows. The development phase, which involves managing and preparing sites and extraction plants for reserves, is efficient because it carries out different design phases simultaneously and uses existing plants where possible. Last but by no means least, thanks to near-field exploration we can reap all the possible synergies from using structures already in place, which allows us to start production more quickly following a discovery.

Asset

Converting unused assets saves us time and development costs. The two floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) units in the area, N’Goma and Olombendo, started life as ships and were converted for their current use. Olombendo operates in East Hub and was named after a traditional wind instrument of the Ovimbundu people, a Bantu ethnic group from the centre of Angola. It began operating five months earlier than planned, having been built in Singapore using the latest technology, while some of its docking parts were made in Angola. The FPSO Olombendo can produce 80,000 barrels of petrol and up to 3.4 million m3 of gas a day. With nine subsea wells, of which five are producing and four water-injecting, at a depth of 450 m, the FPSO is in production in the Cabaça South East field, 350 km north-west of Luanda and 130 km west of Soyo.

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Along with our Angolan partner Sonangol we celebrated the launch of FPSO Olombendo in 2016.

This achievement is the result of several things. Critically, we had a fully integrated team supported by central technical expertise, but also we had highly efficient and effective procurement strategies that were able to take advantage of all the synergies available in the block. Finally, our experienced team was able to apply lessons

Giorgio Moscatelli, Project Development manager

Impact on the environment and local community

We went over and above the standard regulations during the development of the West and East Hub sites and used the best available technology to reduce atmospheric emissions and discharge as much as possible, going beyond mere compliance with the regulations in force in Angola and applying international best practices. For example, among oil and gas operators, we were the first in the country to apply the Zero Discharge Policy when managing water from production and drilling residues. We also prevent crude oil from escaping through emergency plans approved by the relevant authorities, and have reduced flaring – reusing gas from extraction.

We have never undertaken exploration or development work for hydrocarbons within the boundaries of natural sites on the UNESCO World Heritage list. In May 2019, we formally committed never to do so and officially instated a biodiversity and ecosystem services (BES) policy – this had previously been followed in our operations and constitutes part of our transformation path. We are committed to long-term investment – looking beyond short-term profit priorities to how we can help create a more sustainable planet – as recognised in our new company mission, in turn inspired by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.