FrontPageAfrica (Monrovia)

25 April 2014

Liberia: Well Results Secret - Chevron Coy About Quest for Oil in Liberia

Monrovia — Chevron Liberia on Thursday took Liberian journalists on a tour of its third oil-drilling rig The West Tellus. Quizzed on the outcome of previous drilling carried out by the company, it's Liberia country Representative was very careful in making any disclosure of the company's previous drills.

"We're in a very, very competitive world so we do not release our well results. I believe that's company confidential information; we are in competition with the likes of African Petroleum, Anadarko and Exxon Mobil so we do not like to share our results," Karl Cottrel, Chevron Liberia Country Manager

The American oil giant, which holds and operates 45 percent interest in three blocks off the coast of Liberia namely the deepwater blocks, LB-11, LB-12 and LB-14 and covers a combined area of 1.8 million acres (7,364 sq km) is still holding close to its chest any information about its drilling analysis results.

"I know what you are asking and I can tell you that I can't tell you that," said Chevron Liberia Country Manager Mr. Karl Cottrel when quizzed about what information on its previous drillings Chevron was willing to reveal.

A Competitive world

"We're in a very, very competitive world so we do not release our well results. I believe that's company confidential information; we are in competition with the likes of African Petroleum, Anadarko and Exxon Mobil so we do not like to share our results. It is favorable enough to encourage us to drill another well."

Even though the company is now carrying out its planned additional drilling this year, as it promised that it would do depending on the evaluation of its 3-D seismic data and 2012 drilling result, Mr. Cottrel made it clear that Chevron is not prepared to be another African Petroleum.

"But I would tell you that we would not make any announcement similar to African Petroleum about commerciality or anything of that nature, so you will not get me to say that," he said onboard the West Tellus which is a third generation oil rig.

"Again, I want to be very, very careful there; I would not necessarily call them favorable results or not favorable results ok, so please do not say the results were favorable enough to encourage us."

He said previous drills have informed decisions on the current drilling that is being carried out by the Korean built West Tellus, which is expected reach the bottom of the current well.

"What I would say is that both data from both nighthawk and Carmike went into the evaluation and putting this program together," he said.

Continued Mr. Cottrel: "So what we did with Nighthawk, which is our first well, we gathered a little bit of Data, which informed us about Carmike Deep, that's informed us about Ghostern. It doesn't mean that the results from those wells were favorable or not favorable; all we're doing is gathering data. So please don't quote me, don't say anything about successful or not successful."

Binded by US Laws

Chevron which engages in exploration and production activities in Angola, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria and the Republic of the Congo with a produced net average of more than 430,000 barrels of oil equivalent in 2009 in these countries seems to have a nondisclosure policy when it comes to Liberia at this stage of its oil exploration as is stated by its Liberia representative.

"I'd love to be able to tell you guys this, but I am bound by U.S laws around SCC and reporting. If I violate those I get fired and I go to jail," Mr. Cottrel said to the disappointment of journalists.

"I cannot disclose to you anything that I'm not disclosing to my investment world and one of the things that Chevron does not comment on unless it's our Chairman of the board and it's about our cost and our studies."

But the company states that it will take the next six months to get a clear understanding of the West Tellus drilling based on the analysis of data collected and tested by experts.

"To truly understand what we have here is probably six months from now. What we're doing in this operation is actually gathering data," said Mr. Cottrel. "We would have some early notes of that data... . Well, that data are being gathered, but the full analysis of that data literally takes between six and nine months," he said.

Continued Mr. Cottrel:"Some of it fairly quickly and some of it fairly slow, so all of the drill cuttings; we would actually be taking rock samples and all that sort of thing; we do not have the capability of looking at those sort of activities here offshore, all have to go to laboratories around the world. So we would actually send those samples out of the labs and they will actually do the evaluation of those specific samples in their areas of expertise. So by the time we get those samples, that data and distribute it to experts around the world, they perform their scope of work, then we'll pull that work back again that's when we'll understand what we truly have."

The company, which drilled deepwater exploration wells in the LB-11 block and in the LB-12 block in 2012 states that its primary target of the data it is gathering from the West Tellus at the moment is to make sure it understands what the pressure regimes are so that the company can make sure that it is in a safe operation adding that data from previous drills have been rolled into the analysis and factored it into the new operation.

45 Percent Interests

Showing the progress of the company as it relates to advancing Liberian participation at all levels of the drilling process in the middle of LB12-GHOSTERN, Cottrell was proud to say that the West Tellus has a total of sixty-five Liberians who work twenty-eight days onshore and twenty-eight days offshore. Chevron Liberia Limited was granted approval by the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf-led administration in September 2010 to secure interests in the three deep-water blocks.

The company operates and has a 45 percent interest in the blocks, LB-11, LB-12 and LB-14. These three blocks are situated between 12 and 110 miles (20 to 180 km) south of Monrovia and covers an area of about 2 million acres (8,100 sq km).

The West Tellus is outfitted to work in up to 10,000 feet of water and has a capability of water depths of up to 12,000 feet and drilling depths of up to 37,000 feet. Chevron's being tightlipped on its operations as it relates to its Liberia operation seems to stem from the disclosures made by oil giant African Petroleum that turned out to be a farce.

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