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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 East Hub and West Hub, are located about 350 km north-west of the city of Luanda, in the Eni-operated Block 15/06. West Hub entered production at the end of 2014, while production at East Hub began in February 2017, five months ahead of schedule, giving it one of the best time-to-markets in the industry. Much of our focus in this area is developing offshore oil fields and the block has seen Eni's first work in the deep water off Angola’s coast. The first phase involves the development of six fields (Sangos, Cinguvu, Mpungi, Ochigufu and Vandumbu) in the West Hub, which will be linked by 31 subsea wells. Of these, 18 are producing and 13 injecting to the floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) unit Ngoma. For the East Hub area, development involves production in the fields of Cabaça South East and Cabaça Central UM8. These have 11 wells, six producing and five injecting, linked to FPSO Olombendo. Production comes from the West Hub and the East Hub projects that in 2020 produced 123 kboe/d (42 kboe/d net to Eni).

In January 2020 we started producing oil from the Agogo offshore deposit, located in Block 15/06 in Angolan waters, barely nine months after it was discovered, thanks to the operational synergies developed with the Floating Production Storage Offloading (FPSO) Ngoma. Start-up involved the drilling of the Agogo-1 well, which achieved a flow rate of around 10 thousand barrels of oil per day. In the same year, in February, we have successfully drilled Agogo-3, the second appraisal well of Agogo discovery, increasing by about 40% the estimate of oil in place, which is now of 1 billion barrels with further upside to be tested, and pave the way for its full field development with a third production hub.

 During the 2020 the Block 15/06 exploration license was renewed for additional three years. The agreement will allow to assess the possible additional mineral potential of the area. Other development activities in the operated block concerned: 

  • the completion of the subsea production and injection facilities at the Cabaça North & UM 4/5 project
  • studies for the full field development of the Agogo field
  • activities related to the Ndungu discovery development.

In April 2021 we made a new light oil discovery in the area. The well has been drilled on the Cuica exploration prospect located inside the Cabaça Development Area and close to the Armada Olombendo FPSO (East Hub). The discovery is based on the ILX_Infrastructure-led exploration strategy, which pursues exploration opportunities in proximity of existing infrastructures. We started production of the Cuica Field via the FPSO vessel in July 2021, just over 4 month from discovery.

In September 2021 we started production from Cabaça North, via the Armada Olombendo FPSO and through our Infrastructure-Led Exploration strategy. The Cabaça North development, with an expected peak production rate in the range of 15 kbopd, will increase and sustain the plateau of the vessel, a zero-discharge, zero-process flaring FPSO with an overall capacity of 100 kbopd. This is the second start-up achieved by Eni Angola in 2021, after the Cuica Early Production achieved in July. A third start-up is expected within the next few months, with the Ndungu Early Production in the Western area of Block 15/06.

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.