Angola

1926

Creation of Carbonang

1937

Creation of Companhia de Combustíveis do Lobito (Purfina)

1953

Start of Exploration of TOTAL in Angola

1959 - 1961

TOBIAS & GALINDA discoveries

1975

Oil nationalization

The Group's origins in Angola date back to the late 1920s, when Petrofina, seeking markets to sell products from Romanian productions, moved into the distribution of products. It was in 1953 that the Group made its entry into exploration, when Petrofina obtained a first concession in the Benfica region.

 

1926 - 1953

From the Creation of Purfina to the First Onshore Concession

 

The first oil concession was awarded in 1910 to Canha & Formigal, heralding the true start of Angola’s oil industry. But it was in 1926 that the Belgian group Petrofina established Carbonang, its distribution affiliate in the country. That led to the creation, on August 11, 1937, of Companhia de Combustíveis do Lobito (Purfina), Angola’s first petroleum products distributor, whose primary role was to supply its products to the Shaba mining region in Zaire via the Benguela railway line. The postwar years were marked by intense negotiations between Petrofina and the Portuguese government to obtain a permit for oil exploration and production in areas of the Kwanza and Congo Basins.

The concession was awarded on March 24, 1953, marking the start of oil exploration by a Total Group company in Angola. Although the concession was initially for onshore activity only, on December 3, 1955, it was expanded to include the Kwanza and Congo continental shelf, increasing the total concession area from 29,520 to 56,320 square kilometers. As soon as the concession decree was published, the Missão de Pesquisas Petrofina immediately moved ahead with its exploration activities.

 

Purfina’s offices in Lobito

Purfina’s offices in Lobito.

 

The Benguela railway line

The Benguela railway line.  

1954 - 1958

First Onshore Discoveries in the Kwanza Basin... 

 

After a difficult start when the first well that was drilled, Santiago 1, proved unsuccessful, the pioneering efforts were rewarded with the discovery in 1955 of a commercially viable field at Benfica.

Further discoveries were made north of the Kwanza River and in the capital region, notably at Luanda in 1957 and Cacuaco in 1958, which confirmed the basin’s potential for oil production.

 

In 1955, the pioneering efforts were rewarded with the discovery of a commercially viable field at Benfica

In 1955, the pioneering efforts were rewarded with the discovery of a commercially viable field at Benfica.

 

As these detonations show, the initial success at the Benfica site in the Kwanza Basin in 1955 was followed by an extensive seismic campaign that resulted in a number of wells being drilled in the years that followed.

As these detonations show, the initial success at the Benfica site in the Kwanza Basin in 1955 was followed by an extensive seismic campaign that resulted in a number of wells being drilled in the years that followed.

 

The oil trailblazers of the 1950s lacked the sophisticated equipment available to today’s explorers, as is evident from this radio van, the sole link between personnel in the field and their contact base.

The oil trailblazers of the 1950s lacked the sophisticated equipment available to today’s explorers, as is evident from this radio van, the sole link between personnel in the field and their contact base.

 

In those pioneering days, safety requirements were vastly different from today’s standards. Here, for example, drill pipes are being tightened using a rope – a technique that cost several drillers their fingers – and samples are being taken at the wellhead.

In those pioneering days, safety requirements were vastly different from today’s standards. Here, for example, drill pipes are being tightened using a rope – a technique that cost several drillers their fingers – and samples are being taken at the wellhead.

 

1959 - 1969

The period from 1959 to 1961 brought some major discoveries, particularly Tobias and Galinda, which came on stream in 1964 and marked a new, more active phase in the oil industry’s history. Oil production at Kwanza rose to 18,000 barrels a day, a pace that would be maintained until the end of the 1990s, when the company conducted the first asset retirement program in Angola, even though oil companies were not yet required to do so by law. As Angola began to produce oil, it needed refining capacity. Construction work therefore began on the Luanda refinery, where capacity quadrupled within a matter of years. During the same period, oil transportation infrastructure began to emerge in the country, including an oil pipeline across the Kwanza River.

In 1968, Angol and Total-CAP joined forces to create a 50/50 joint venture for oil exploration and production in the eastern region of the Kwanza Basin (onshore) and in Ambriz (onshore and offshore). Nearly a decade after the Benfica discovery, Petrangol continued to conduct onshore exploration in the Kwanza Basin using continuous seismic acquisition, and drilled a number of wells using its own equipment.

 

Seismic acquisition involves a number of steps. First, holes are made in the ground in which explosive charges are placed. Once detonated, they create seismic waves that are reflected by the subsoil and recorded in an acoustic signal acquisition unit.

Seismic acquisition involves a number of steps. First, holes are made in the ground in which explosive charges are placed. Once detonated, they create seismic waves that are reflected by the subsoil and recorded in an acoustic signal acquisition unit.

 

Onshore exploration of the Lower Congo Basin began in 1966 with a seismic survey followed by three wells that proved unsuccessful, until an initial commercial discovery was made at Cabeça da Cobra in 1968. The major discoveries in the basin were all made in the years that followed, including Quinguila, Nzombo, Ganda, Pangala and Quinfuquena, as well as a natural gas field at Sereia. As those fields came on stream, production in the Lower Congo Basin climbed to 40,000 barrels a day by the late 1970s, based on a highly integrated operating model. Total continued to operate those fields until 2007, when the Group sold its holdings in Fina Petróleos de Angola to Sonangol P&P, the concessionaire’s operating arm, which assumed operational responsibility for the fields. The current production rate of about 9,000 barrels a day is a testament to the quality of the development and maintenance work performed since the 1970s, despite various acts of infrastructure sabotage committed during Angola’s civil war, particularly between 1992 and 1994.

1970 - 1975

...To Angola’s Independence

 

In 1970 and 1971, two exploration wells were drilled at the Praia 1 and Sangano 1 offshore sites, signaling a start to offshore exploration in the Kwanza region. The multiple technical obstacles that arose during those initial attempts rendered the results inconclusive. Meanwhile, U.S.-based Texaco became the offshore operator in the Congo Basin, under the terms of an agreement signed with the approval of Petrangol and the Angolan government. A seismic survey and the drilling of four wells had to be discontinued a few months before the country proclaimed its independence.

 

On November 11, 1975, Angola became an independent country and nationalized its oil industry.

 

Reflecting its desire to become an integral part of Angolan society, Petrofina helped to fund the reconstruction of the Iron Palace in Luanda.

Reflecting its desire to become an integral part of Angolan society, Petrofina helped to fund the reconstruction of the Iron Palace in Luanda.

 

1975 - 1980

The Development of Block 3

or How To Develop Offshore Exploration and Production In the Midst Of an Armed Conflict

In 1978, upon being awarded monopoly rights, Sonangol conducted a regional 2D seismic survey, and the shallow offshore (water depths of less than 200 meters) was divided into 13 blocks. At the same time, a model production sharing agreement was offered to international firms. Pursuant to the negotiations conducted with interested companies, including Total, Elf and Fina, Block 3 was awarded to the business consortium led by Elf Aquitaine. That agreement, signed in 1980, was known as PSA Block 3/80.

A single statistic will suffice to demonstrate Block 3’s importance to the history of Total E&P Angola: between first oil in 1985 and November 2004, total production from Block 3 amounted to one billion barrels. Nicknamed the Wildlife Block, Block 3 spans some 5,000 square kilometers in the Lower Congo Basin and is located 40 kilometers from the Angolan coast, at water depths ranging from 40 to 200 meters. Its petroleum reservoirs lie an average of 3,500 meters below the surface, in temperatures of approximately 150°C.

Block 3

1981 - 2002

Between 1981 and 1982, each of the first five wells that Elf Aquitaine drilled in Block 3 yielded a major discovery. Elf and its partners continued their winning streak by obtaining two new exploration contracts for areas that were not initially designated for development. With exploration and then the start of production in Block 3, Angola’s oil industry took its first step in tackling the complexity of offshore operations and planted the seeds for the emergence of an oil services industry, with Sonangol’s support and encouragement. The Kwanda base, established in Soyo in 1983, attracted a number of world-class service providers, including Schlumberger and Halliburton, while a shipyard was constructed opposite Block 3 in Ambriz, in Bengo province, to build production platforms.

 

In 1985, five years after winning the concession for Block 3, the consortium led by Elf Aquitaine Angola launched production at the Palanca field, drawing on operational support from the Kwanda base in Soyo, where the company had developed comprehensive infrastructure for logistics and operational support.

 The Kwanda base in Soyo began operations in 1983.

The Kwanda base in Soyo began operations in 1983.

 

During the 1980s, the training center established at the base in Soyo played a major role in providing training to generations of technicians working offshore.

During the 1980s, the training center established at the base in Soyo played a major role in providing training to generations of technicians working offshore.

 

As part of their training, these young technicians conduct practical exercises on the equipment made available at the Soyo site.

As part of their training, these young technicians conduct practical exercises on the equipment made available at the Soyo site.

 

In 1992, the Angolan war was making operations so difficult that the company was forced to relocate its operational base to Pointe Noire in Congo Brazzaville (now the Republic of the Congo) until 1996, when the Sonils base in Luanda was able to assume responsibility for all of Elf Exploration Angola’s offshore operations. The teams working on the block successfully drew on their creativity, critical thinking and boldness to master the day-to-day technical and logistical problems that arose, such as the corrosion that afflicts all marine infrastructure.

The use of float-over technology to erect a 10,000-ton deck on the COB P1 platform at the Cobo reservoir was just one of the engineering breakthroughs that marked the development of the Block 3 fields.

The use of float-over technology to erect a 10,000-ton deck on the COB P1 platform at the Cobo reservoir was just one of the engineering breakthroughs that marked the development of the Block 3 fields.

 

By 1998, Block 3 had reached its peak average daily production of 192,000 barrels a day, and production levels continued to hover close to 200,000 barrels a day during the years that followed. When Block 3/80 was transferred to Sonangol in 2005, daily output stood at about 120,000 barrels and Block 3 still had many years of production ahead of it.

 

On April 4, 2002, Angola’s rival political movements signed a ceasefire agreement, putting an official end to the 27 years of armed conflict that began in 1975. With peace restored, the country has experienced a boom in oil exploration and production.

 

2002 - 2013

Development of Block 17: The Deep Offshore Adventure

l'aventure des grands fonds - le bloc 17

It is no exaggeration to say that Block 3 truly paved the way for Block 17, in terms of both developing knowledge and engineering and accelerating Angolanization. While not a deepwater project, the block’s subterranean characteristics, including high temperatures and heterogeneous reservoirs, meant that developing and operating it would be far from simple.

Drilling techniques that included cooling and aerating the oil-based mud, as well as techniques for completing and treating the reservoirs, all had to be developed to ensure optimal drilling and maximize oil recovery while keeping development costs down.

Among the innovations that Elf Exploration Angola developed for Block 3, the ballasting/jacking system known as the float-over method, developed in order to erect the deck on the COB P1 platform in 1995, was later used for a variety of other projects worldwide. Another innovation involved the use of subsea installations connected to the COB F1 platform – some six kilometers away – to develop the Oombo field in record time (12 months) and below cost projections.

 

Block 17

To know more about block 17

2014 - 2019

Block 32 Hits Its Stride

Constantly venturing further and into deeper waters, mindful of our corporate social responsibility and of sustainability concerns — that’s how you might sum up the past few years of growth at Total E&P Angola. That growth is reflected in the increasing number of brownfield projects to offset declining production from mature fields, the start-up of full-field production from Block 32 with the arrival of the FPSO Kaombo Sul, and the exploration conducted in Block 48 in waters more than 3,000 meters deep. But that momentum is also visible in the rising proportion of local content in each project, unflagging efforts to reduce the environmental impact of operations, expanded hiring and training programs for Angolan personnel and the ongoing commitment to community engagement in partnership with local stakeholders.

 

March 31, 2014. In Luanda, Total E&P Angola hosted the closing ceremony for its yearlong celebration of 60 years in Angola (1953-2013). In those six decades, Total as it exists today moved beyond its roots as a pioneer in the Angolan oil industry to become the country’s leading oil explorer and producer in the country. The affiliate’s teams joined forces with Total employees and countless partners from Angola and around the world to organize an array of events throughout 2013 that served to strengthen the ties among these various communities. There were many projects to mark the anniversary, including a book and video that retraced the affiliate’s 60-year history through firsthand accounts from the men and women who made it happen.

DISCOVER THE BOOK "TOTAL E&P ANGOLA - Pionners in 1953, leaders in 2013"

 

livre angola

June 2014. CLOV, the fourth deepwater development in Block 17, came on stream. The name CLOV is actually an acronym of the four component reservoirs: Cravo, Lírio, Orquídea and Violeta. With CLOV in production, Total E&P Angola was able to maintain its ranking as Angola’s biggest producer, averaging 700,000 barrels per day.

As with Pazflor, the CLOV reservoirs — some dating from the Oligocene and others from the Miocene — contain different grades of oil. So, to recover the oil more efficiently, a system of subsea multiphase pumps was needed. With estimated reserves of 505 million barrels over 20 years, CLOV will be pivotal to long-term production from Block 17.

Like Girassol, Dália and Pazflor, CLOV entailed the use of a newbuild FPSO, which in turn incorporated a number of innovations. The FPSO and its topsides were fabricated with an unprecedented HSE performance: 16 million man-hours worked without an accident at the Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) shipyard in Okpo , South Korea, and the Paenal yard in Porto Amboim, Angola. The level of local content rose, reaching 20% of the total contract value. In all, 64,000 tons of assembly work, including 40,000 tons of fabrication, was carried out in Angola, representing more than 10 million man-hours. It’s one way in which CLOV reflects a long-term objective at Total E&P Angola. Additionally, all associated gas from CLOV is exported to the Angola LNG liquefaction plant in Soyo.

CLOV
FPSO CLOV off Angola - copyright SACHS Igor

 

Ongoing innovation !

Oil exploration and production has continued with a number of new developments. Although CLOV is key to the affiliate’s future, deepwater fields are also under development in Block 32, while exploration is underway in the Kwanza Basin pre-salt* play. Those developments will replace mature fields**.

*Pre-salt play: Oil or gas prospect located under a salt layer. Also known as a subsalt play.

**Mature fields: Oil fields that are past their peak production.

 

2015. The GirRI brownfield project, designed to improve extraction on fields in production and make secondary reservoir development commercially viable, was the first in Block 17 to use so-called subsea multiphase pumps. The pumps can handle all three phases — oil, water, gas — of the fluid extracted from the reservoir, which reduces energy usage and increases the reservoir’s productivity. Similarly, an innovative integrated power management system (IPMS) was installed to overcome limits on available power: a high-voltage connecting cable (IPC) provides for optimal distribution of the power load between Dália and Girassol.

 

2016. Total E&P Angola introduced a smart room project for its FPSOs. Each smart room monitors production and coordinates onshore and offshore activities to reduce the cost of Block 17 operations.

 

2017. In a bid to instill a culture of innovation, Exploration & Production created an innovation network that includes regular webinars and opportunities to share ideas. The network has hosted major events such as Inno.Days and set up an in-house platform for collaborative innovation known as Build’INN , which ultimately led to the global E&P Innovathon competition. Twenty-four Total E&P Angola employees are members of the network and have generated about 10% of the concepts presented.

 

Growth in Exploration and Production

Brownfield Projects to Enhance Production

 

pbf

Oil exploration and production generally means major developments that start from scratch, otherwise known as greenfield projects. Examples in Angola include Blocks 17 and 32, with the development of fields such as Girassol, Dália, Pazflor, CLOV and, more recently, Kaombo. In contrast, brownfield projects (known in Angola as projectos brownfield, or PBFs) involve additional development of producing fields. There are various types of brownfield projects, but they are all designed to capitalize on producing assets by improving extraction from reservoirs, upgrading existing facilities and/or improving the development’s return on investment by tying back new wells or other equipment.

 

The Different Types of Brownfield Projects

Brownfield projects can be grouped into five main categories:

  • Infill projects, which “merely” consist of tying back new wells to existing subsea systems, with few topside or subsea modifications.
  • Tie-back projects, in which new flowlines, pipelines, umbilicals and other equipment are added to the existing subsea infrastructure so that new wells can be tied back.
  • Debottlenecking projects, which involve modifying subsea and/or topside infrastructure to improve the performance of producing reservoirs.
  • Integrity projects, in which a substantial portion of existing infrastructure is replaced, with the aim of improving its performance or extending its working life. Such projects are major undertakings.
  • Pilot projects, or small-scale development projects geared toward R&D.

The first brownfield project was the Girassol Resources Initiatives (GirRI) project launched in March 2009. It proved a success, with first oil from the Girassol infill wells in August 2011 and from Rosa D’ in 2012. Numerous projects were added to GirRI in subsequent years to offset declining production from mature fields in Block 17. Brownfield projects have now been launched on every field in Block 17: no fewer than 15 projects are already in production or being deployed. and field development engineers are looking at a similar number of projects to secure the block’s future. Some of those projects involve Blocks 32 and 17 as well.

projet GirRI
The equipment to be installed on the seabed as part of the GirRI project, such as this manifold support structure, was loaded onto the Normand Installer at the Sonamet yard in Lobito, then transported to Block 17

 

Brownfield Projects in Block 17

Several projects, at various stages of progress, are now underway to improve extraction from Block 17 fields.

brownfield projects

 

Identifying the Best Ways to Improve Profitability

Although smaller in scale than greenfield projects, brownfield projects are just as complex, given the variety of performance requirements they need to fulfill (often similar to those of a greenfield project) and the profitability criteria they must meet. Brownfield projects can increase the amount of oil produced from mature fields for a smaller investment than would be needed to develop large new reservoirs that are not close to existing infrastructure.

At each link in the development chain, from the geoscientists to the project designers and teams, efficiency and the ability to innovate are key, says Elsa Monteiro, External Relations, Local Content, Communications & Innovation Manager for Block 17 brownfield projects. With regard to project management, for example, the Total E&P Angola employees in charge of these projects work in cross-functional, multidisciplinary teams that can respond quickly and draw on a wealth of experience acquired on other projects. As a result, they can develop programs that are consistent in terms of safety, quality and cost. Sylvain Denoyer, Brownfield Project Manager at Total E&P Angola, believes that this kind of matrix organization derives its strength from the spirit of cooperation and understanding among internal and external operators, including state-owned Sonangol, which awards licenses, our partners and our contractors, coupled with a shared sense of responsibility and a firm focus on our common objective.

 

2018: A Green Light for Three Major Brownfield Projects

The three major brownfield sanctioned in 2018 will eventually boost production from Block 17 by 110,000 barrels per day, with reserves totaling about 150 million barrels. That will significantly slow the decline in Block 17 production during the first half of the 2020s.

 

The Three PBFs Sanctioned in 2018

  • CLOV Phase 2: First oil expected early in the second quarter of 2020, with plateau production of about 40,000 barrels per day in 2021.
  • Zinia Phase 2: First oil expected in the first quarter of 2021, with plateau production of about 40,000 barrels per day in 2022.
  • Dália Phase 3: First oil expected in the first quarter of 2021, with plateau production of about 30,000 barrels per day in 2022.

 

2018: First Oil From Block 32 With Kaombo

Although Block 32 didn’t see first oil until July 27, 2018, with the start of production from the FPSO Kaombo Norte, the block actually became a Total asset back in 1999 under a production sharing agreement signed with Sonangol, Angola’s national oil company. Total is the operator for the block as part of a consortium of partner businesses (the “contractors group”) comprised of companies on four continents.

To know more about block 32 and Kaombo project

 

2018: A Concession Contract Is Signed for Block 48

On May 28, 2018, during an official visit to France by Angolan President João Lourenço, Total Chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanné and Sonangol Chairman Carlos Saturnino signed a risk service agreement for the ultra-deepwater Block 48 exploration license. Under the terms of the agreement, the two partners formed a 50/50 joint venture to conduct exploration in the block, with Total as the operator. With sizable estimated reserves, Block 48 is a strategic asset for both Total and Sonangol insofar as it could replace Angola’s oil resource base — a critical task in the wake of disappointing exploration results in the Kwanza Basin. 

Although Total E&P Angola is pinning its hopes on exploration in Block 48, prospecting and production in the block will pose a challenge given the unprecedented water depths. Whereas Block 17 involved depths of 500 to 1,200 meters and Block 32, 1,000 to 2,500 meters, the water depths in Block 48 range from 2,200 to nearly 4,000 meters. There are major technological hurdles to overcome before any work can begin, since the subsea equipment commonly used will need to be redesigned to make it suitable for ultra-deepwater exploration. Operational safety and environmental protection will be a special focus of attention. It’s a demonstration of Total’s ongoing efforts to help develop Angola’s oil and gas resources.

Unprecedented Water Depths

bloc 48
The western portion of Block 48 drops off sharply into an abyssal plain.

 

Block 48 won’t just be an opportunity for technological advancements — Total E&P Angola will be setting up community programs designed to foster social progress in Angola as well, meaning that the block will significantly benefit Angola and Total alike.