Exploration can also involve drilling wells to access deposits. In 2017 we announced a record figure for the production of hydrocarbons: 1.82 million barrels a day.
Continued research: we recently discovered new deposits and completed new exploratory wells.
Our goal is to focus on low-cost resources, flexibility over the short term and creation of sustainable value and growth over the long term. We promote the maximum integration between exploration and development, starting with the first stages of the exploratory campaign. Preparatory analyses for development operations are carried out during exploration and the information required to improve project engineering and reduce the time to reach a final investment decision (FID) is collected and evaluated. Exploration continues to be a key aspect of Eni’s Upstream model, providing a large pool of low-cost resources, ensuring short-term flexibility and driving long-term growth. Our investment in exploration amounted to €442 million in 2017 and underpins our activities in Cyprus, Norway, Mexico, Egypt, Libya and Côte d’Ivoire. It has also contributed to the completion of 25 new exploratory wells – Eni’s share of which is 15.9. At the end of the last financial year, 78 wells were in progress (Eni’s share being 41.2). In 2017 we added 1 billion boe equity, 800 million of which was from in-house exploration at a unit cost of $1/barrel. Since 2014, our new discoveries have amounted to more than 4 billion boe, almost double the equity production for the same period. In February 2018, gas was discovered at the Calypso 1 well in Block 6 of the Cyprus offshore field (which is 50 per cent managed by Eni). Early indications suggest this discovery has great potential, confirming the decision to extend research in the Zohr field. Zohr is one of Eni’s record projects, demonstrating the success of the integrated exploration and development model adopted in recent years. By conducting the exploration, appraisal and development phases in tandem we are able to shorten time-to-market and reduce costs in bringing new discoveries on stream. The recent discovery in the Shorouk block (60 per cent managed by Eni) of the Egyptian offshore field has the potential for more than 850 billion cubic metres of gas (approximately 5.5. billion boe).
In February 2018, two exploration and production agreements were signed with the Republic of Lebanon for Blocks 4 and 9, located in deep waters off the Lebanese coast. Eni has a 40 per cent stake in both blocks. In the Sultanate of Oman, meanwhile, we have concluded an exploration and production sharing agreement with the government and the state-owned Oman Oil Company Exploration & Production LLC (OOCEP) relating to Block 52 in the country’s offshore field. Eni has also signed an agreement with Qatar Petroleum, assigning it a share in the block subject to the approval of the country’s authorities. Following these agreements, Eni will manage operations in this area and own a 55 per cent stake. In Kazakhstan, an agreement has been signed with the Ministry of Energy and KMG to transfer to Eni 50 per cent of the hydrocarbons prospecting and production rights in the Isatay block of the Caspian Sea. The block will be managed by a joint operating company, in which Eni and KMG are equal partners. Eni will be able to draw on its proprietary technologies, leadership in exploration and longstanding experience in technically and environmentally challenging areas, such as the Caspian basin. In March 2017, a farm-in agreement to acquire a 50 per cent stake of Block 11 in the Cyprus offshore field, operated by Total, was finalised. This exploratory block, covering 2,215 square kilometres, is close to the Zohr discovery. Exploration of Area 1 of the Mexican offshore field has also been completed. Thanks to this successful campaign, and a revision of the reservoir models, it has been possible to upgrade forecasts for the total resources of the block to 2 billion boe, of which 90 per cent is oil. Eni has presented the Mexican authorities with a plan for the development of the three discoveries made in the area, with production forecast to begin in 2019. In the meantime, the acreage in Eni’s portfolio has been increased by the acquisition of rights to explore more than 97,000 square kilometres in Cyprus, Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco and Mexico, as well as the areas previously mentioned in Kazakhstan and Oman.
Operations start with geophysical prospecting, which includes identifying traps (reservoirs in the rock that allow for the formation and accumulation of hydrocarbons). A seismic survey is usually conducted to reconstruct the stratigraphy of the rocks that make up the subsoil and, in favourable cases, to provide through further processing additional information about their lithological structure and the nature of the fluids contained within. Exploratory wells are used to determine whether the trap contains hydrocarbons, their nature and quantity, while a direct examination of the rocks and fluids helps us check whether the geological model of the subsurface meets with expectation. In the coastal areas, exploratory wells are drilled from plants mounted on self-lifting or semi-submersible mobile structures and drilling vessels.
Research, innovation and technology lead to the successful discovery of new deposits around the world. Cutting-edge technologies are required to explore the subsoil and, thanks to our collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), we have been able to develop research and discover useful applications. Thanks to core barrels, the history of deposits can be examined to forecast the production of hydrocarbons over time; and with sandbox technology the geological structure and evolution of rocks can be analysed in the quest for hydrocarbons. Other research projects such as Gas Systems simulate a petroleum system in order to identify promising areas for deposits and any risk factors involved in exploration. Thanks to depth velocity analysis technology it is also possible to obtain a 3D image of the subsoil that is as close to possible to reality, which is useful for the discovery of new deposits. Another key instrument used to achieve successful results is advanced layer fluid dynamics modelling, based on calculations made by the Green Data Centre at Ferrera Erbognone (Pavia), which houses Eni’s main information processing systems. The use of sophisticated proprietary algorithms for seismic imaging allows for more accurate subsoil models, reducing risks during the exploration and development stages. An integral part of the infrastructure is HPC4, the supercomputer that Eni principally uses to study data derived from underground investigations. The new “super number cruncher” quadruples the prestige of the Green Data Center, making it the most powerful industrial installation of its kind in the world.
We analyse and process data using technology: for all our real life projects we envision a digital alias, i.e. a virtual alter ego that has the power to predict the outcome of the exploration. Our data centres analyse data from previous explorations and simulations using fluid dynamics to predict where new fields are located. The advantages? Economic savings, and an acceleration of the processes and timelines for the exploration.
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