PetroCanada Offshore Tobago Well Produces Flare, Promise of Gas

The Tobago News reported on Jan. 11 that Petro-Canada discovered "a substantial natural gas deposit" on block 22, offshore Tobago and Trinidad.

The drilling program has focused on exploratory wells Cassra A and Cassra B. Two other future wells planned by Petro-Canada in block 22 are located nearly 40 miles off the northwest coast of Tobago.

Petro-Canada declined to confirm that the discovery consisted of economic quantities. However, a statement issued by the company promises well tests will be conducted at Cassra A to confirm the commercial viability of the discovery.

Residents of Tobago say that the flare from the well site was clearly visible. A safety notice released by the company reads, "flaring happens when an exploration well is 'tested' to understand how any oil or gas present flows from the reservoir.

"Because there are no production facilities on the drilling rig, the oil or gas is burnt under tightly controlled conditions … this produces the flare."

Petro-Canada signed a six-month lease for the Diamond Ocean Worker, a semi-submersible rig, for the exploratory drilling operations 12 miles off Tobago's north coast. Drilling at Cassra A began in November.

Neither Petro-Canada nor Petrotrin, Petro-Canada's partner in the operation, could be reached for comment.

In 2005, Petro-Canada signed production sharing contracts for blocks 1a and 1b in the Gulf of Paria and Block 22 off of Tobago. These blocks were awarded to Petro-Canada in a 2003 licensing round. Petro-Canada has claimed all along that each of these areas are "highly prospective and have low to moderate risk prospects."

Petro-Canada has invested more than $80 million in the blocks offshore Trinidad and Tobago.

Petro-Canada has a 17.3% interest in a natural gas development in Trinidad and Tobago. This area produced 63 MMcf/d (10,500 boe/d net) in 2006. No results for 2007 were available at the time of publication.

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