27 February 2012, Sweetcrude, LAGOS — Nigeria’s crude oil production got a boost, weekend, with the coming on stream of French oil giant’s 180,000-barrels per day Usan field, offshore Nigeria.
Accordingly, Nigeria crude oil production now stands at 2.68 million barrels per day (bpd), up from 2.5 million pbd as at last week.
Total, the operator of the Oil Mining Lease, OML138, in keeping to its promise, announced the start-up of production from the field in line with the planned schedule for first oil before the end of first quarter 2012.
Usan is the second deep offshore development operated by Total E&P in Nigeria, and is coming on stream less than three years after Akpo.
Earlier last week, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Allison Diezani Madueke, had hinted at the streaming of the Usan field, which she said would increase Nigeria’s crude production capacity, just as efforts have been beefed up to open up all the frontier basins for oil and gas activities.
The Usan field, discovered in 2002, lies around 62 miles (100 kilometres) off the South East Nigerian coast in water depths ranging from 2,461 to 2,789 feet (750 to 850 metres).
The Usan development comprises a spread moored Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel designed to process 180,000 barrels per day and with a crude storage capacity of two million barrels. Its size of 1,050 feet (320 metres) long and 200 feet (61 metres) wide makes it one of the largest vessels of this type in the world.
President Exploration and Production at Total, Mr. Yves-Louis Darricarrère, stated: “I’m particularly proud to announce start-up of this major project together with the concession holder, NNPC. This project demonstrates the ability of Total, a key operator of large-scale deep offshore developments in the Gulf of Guinea, to lead ambitious projects that will contribute to increase production for the Group and for the country.”
“Total, as operator, has introduced a number of technological innovations, among which is a solution that drastically reduces gas flaring and thus minimizes the project’s environmental impact. The development of Usan has involved a record 60 per cent of local content man-hours and thus has contributed to strengthening the know-how of the Nigerian industry in the area of hydrocarbon exploitation in the deep offshore.”
The offshore arena is Nigeria’s biggest hope of increasing oil and gas production, especially with regard to meeting set targets of 40 billion barrels reserves and 4 million bpd production by 2020.
Prolonged years of militancy in the onshore oil-rich Niger Delta drove international oil companies deeper into the deepwater terrain in order to meet investment targets.
However, fresh investments in the region have been stalled by the delay in the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
The Usan project has involved an unprecedented level of Nigerian local content, with over 500,000 engineering man-hours and 14 million construction and installation man-hours performed in Nigeria.
The FPSO construction included an offshore integration of 3,500 tons of locally-fabricated structures. In addition, large-scale training and capacity building programmes were put in place, raising the skills of the local workforce to the benefit of future projects.
Total’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Total E&P Nigeria Ltd., operates OML 138 with a 20% interest, while Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is the concession holder. Total’s partners are Chevron Petroleum Nigeria Ltd. (30%), Esso E&P Nigeria (Offshore East) Ltd. (30%) and Nexen Petroleum Nigeria Ltd. (20%).