MUSCAT: A relatively small, but promising, oilfield located in central Oman, which is currently the subject of an extended well test, is garnering significant industry attention not least for the characteristics of its heavy oil resources.
The Mafraq oilfield in Block 70, first discovered by Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) in 1988, is now being tested to unlock its potential of crude oil that is extremely heavy in its viscosity.
At reservoir temperatures of about 51 degrees Centigrade, the heavy crude cold flows to the surface without the need for any secondary or tertiary recovery methods. But once on the surface, the crude can only be transported in heated trucks to an intermediate facility where it is further processed before it can be pumped into the country’s main transport pipeline system.
Overseeing that effort is Swedish independent upstream firm Maha Energy, the operator of the 639 sq km concession with a 65 per cent working interest. The remainder 35 per cent interest is held by local Omani firm Mafraq Energy, which acquired the stake following the signing of a Joint Operating Agreement with Maha Energy earlier this year.
Last month, Maha Energy kicked off an extended production test in a bid to establish the commerciality of the Mafraq field. As part of this exercise, a total of eight production test wells have been drilled to date. These pilot wells, equipped with progressive cavity pumps (PCP), are being connected to the testing system before they are placed on an extended flow test. Preliminary results about the initial production potential, as well as the quality of the oil, are expected to be announced next month.
Maha Energy says it is optimistic about a positive outcome. “We are also excited about the results from the production testing of our Omani assets and to benefit from steady and growing production going forward,” said Paulo Thiago Mendonca (pictured), CEO, in the company’s newly published Annual Report 2022.
“Maha’s asset in Oman is an example of an area offering significant growth potential given its vast undeveloped resource and reserves despite its relatively early stage of development. With significant capital invested to date, this asset has been de-risked through extensive seismic data and 8 new production wells drilled, providing Maha another opportunity to spend modest levels of capital with the potential for substantial growth and area expansion,” he stated.
“By partnering with Mafraq, a local entity having regional expertise, Maha has gained further validation of the value of this asset, and we intend to deploy capital and resources to expand it based on success,” Mendonca further added.
Located at a relatively shallow depth of around 430 metres below ground, the Mafraq field is understood to hold around 35 million barrels of recoverable heavy oil resources, according to estimates provided by an independent reserve auditor.
In the event of a commercial discovery, government-owned OQ’s upstream arm is expected to exercise its prerogative to acquire up to a 30 per cent interest in Block 70 under the terms of the Exploration & Production Agreement signed by the Ministry of Energy and Minerals with Maha in 2020.