Maximising E&P with the right subsurface data

Ben SwayersBen Sayers, Director of Business Development – Africa, Mediterranean and the Middle East, speaks with Oil Review Africa (ORA) about TGS’ active projects, licence rounds, challenges faced by Africa’s oil and gas operators and much more

ORA: Please tell me about TGS’ operations and how these are adding value to explore new frontiers in Africa’s oil and gas industry?

BS: TGS has been active in Africa for more than 20 years. We have acquired  a huge amount of subsurface data during this period and last year we acquired our competitor Spectrum ASA enabling us to further enhance TGS’ position as a leading multi-client subsurface data provider with a 2D and 3D seismic data library covering all major mature and frontier basins world-wide.

TGS provides multi-client geoscience data to oil and gas exploration and production companies worldwide. In addition to extensive global geophysical and geological data libraries that include multi-client seismic data, magnetic and gravity data, digital well logs, production data and directional surveys, TGS provides advanced processing and imaging services, interpretation products and data integration solutions. 

ORA: What are the ongoing/upcoming projects in Africa? Which countries you are in operation in Africa?

BS: During this obviously challenging time in the oil and gas industry, we still have many action projects in the region including ongoing programs in Gambia, Nigeria and Egypt. 

Offshore The Gambia, under the cooperation of the Gambian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy (MOPE), TGS has commenced the ‘Gambito 2020’ 3D seismic survey. The 4,770 sq km Gambito 2020 3D survey covers open acreage in deep and ultra-deep waters. This area looks to be highly prospective since extensive basin floor fans were identified in TGS’ 2D regional seismic grids. In addition, we are looking to explore deep waters offshore Nigeria, which is Africa’s biggest producer with an established exploration and production cycle, we are conducting a new multibeam and seafloor acquiring survey, using this technology to further enhance geological understanding  and push the exploration boundaries into the deepwater. In Egypt, we are acquiring the world’s highest resolution gravity imagery, enhanced full tensor gravity gradiometry (eFTG), the first of it’s kind.

Over the last two to three years, the big focus for TGS in Africa has been the MSGBC basin which stands for Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and Guinea-Conakry where the likes of BP,Kosmos an Woodside, have made significant discoveries. More recently, we are adding more 3D data to our library to help E&P companies find more exploration hotspots in those five countries. We also have plans to start acquiring data in Namibia, Egypt, in the Red Sea and Mauritania.

ORA: What licence rounds are you supporting in Africa at this moment?

BS: Currently we are supporting licence rounds in Liberia, Somalia and in Senegal. In Liberia the 2020 Offshore Licensing Round is focused on the Harper Basin. Nine blocks are on offer and TGS holds a range of multi-client data across the tendered acreage to support the licensing round. In Somalia’s first ever offshore licensing round, TGS offers 20,000 km of long-offset 2D seismic data offshore Somalia, which has been used to de-risk source rock presence, distribution and maturity. TGS has the only data available over the blocks and has an exclusive agreement with the Somali government to market this data to interested parties. In Senegal’s first offshore license round, TGS is partnered with GeoPartners on an extensive 3D seismic acquisition to acquire additional regional data (with all Fast Tracks available now) so that interested parties can gain greater subsurface understanding ahead of bid submissions at the end of the year.

TGS is taking an active role in advising the governments on readjusting their bid terms in light of the challenges presented by COVID. The aim is to support countries to make sure licensing rounds remain a successful. 

ORA: In your opinion, what are the main challenges Africa oil and gas operators are facing?

BS: Africa’s hydrocarbon-rich countries face similar challenges as faced by other oil and gas rich countries around the globe. Lack of infrastructure is the biggest difficulty in Africa. With the market currently not sustaining oil and gas investments, it seems that unless there is a big discovery, the infrastructure would not be put in place. From the operators’ perspective, a huge find is needed in countries where there is no infrastructure. 

The difficulty for Africa’s oil and gas operators is the same difficulty that always had: the oil price needs to be big enough to maintain the economic investment and unfortunately with investment and investors currently lacking faith on the oil industry, sufficient investment is hard for the smaller companies to achieve. Big companies such as Shell, ExxonMobil, Total, etc. have a big budget. Therefore, even if they suffer during this challenging time, they will bounce back in a stronger way. But the market is aggressive for the smaller companies and the lack of infrastructure makes it even more challenging for them.

ORA: Whta are TGS’ sustainability measures in Africa?

BS: Sustainability is an important to both TGS our clients. Multi-client data at the very core is more environmentally sustainable as one acquisition vessel can acquire multiple surveys, and re-license and reprocess the same data to enable multiple end-users access as opposed to one vessel per survey, per client.We have established policies and procedures in place to ensure that we are  operating in a sustainable manner. During the acquisition process we monitor our performance against approved environmental management plans; carry out regular environmental audits, inspections and site visits of TGS and contractor operations. We guarantee compliance with applicable laws; plan operations to minimise environmental impacts to acceptable levels and ensure that our contractors restore, in a reasonable and practical manner, all project sites to their original condition. 

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