Providence to explore Baltimore heavy oil field offshore Ireland

Providence Resources has been awarded Licensing Option 10/1 over the Baltimore heavy oil discovery located in block 48/19(p) in the North Celtic Sea Basin, offshore Ireland.

The 48/19-2 discovery well is situated some 30 kilometers off the southern coast of Ireland in 100 meters of water. Discovered in 1992, the Baltimore heavy oil field is estimated to have an in-place resource potential of up to 300 MMBO.

"Whilst technically challenging, we believe that the Baltimore oil accumulation deserves further review given the current sustained higher oil pricing environment together with the recently announced progress on similar oil accumulations in the North Sea,” said Tony O’Reilly, chief executive of Providence. “As heavy/unconventional oil is a new business focus for Providence, the analysis will be carried out through EXOLA Limited, our new special purpose vehicle, in which any future developments will be financed separately from the parent company.” 

Baltimore Heavy Oil Field 

The Baltimore discovery well (48/19-2) was drilled in 1992 on a Lower Cretaceous structure with an areal extent of 12 square kilometers. The well encountered a 300-foot gross hydrocarbon bearing section at 3,000 feet TVDSS in sands of Lower Cretaceous age similar to those producing at the nearby Kinsale Head field. Oil recovered during testing was a heavy crude (11 degrees API), and reservoir cores indicate excellent production potential with permeabilities of greater than 3,000 mD and log derived porosities of 27%. 

As the well was originally targeting a gas prospect and given poor heavy oil economics at that time, the well was subsequently plugged and abandoned. 

Providence has carried out an initial evaluation of the resource potential of the Baltimore discovery based on the available well data and published subsurface mapping. This study indicates an in-place resource potential of up to c. 300 million barrels of oil. Industry commentators Wood MacKenzie have stated that similar heavy oil accumulations are likely to have a 10-30% recovery efficiency indicating that Baltimore could have up to 30-100 MMBO reserve potential. 

As part of the agreed work program, Providence plans to verify the resource potential through in-depth internal study together with a review of potential development scenarios in order to finalize the reserve potential of the Baltimore discovery. 

Recent work by major operators such as Statoil is currently progressing similar heavy oil accumulations in the North Sea, most notably the Mariner and Bressay accumulations, toward development. It is likely that standard heavy oil field technologies such as artificial lift, horizontal drilling and chemical injection will play key roles in any ultimate commercialization of the Baltimore oil resource.

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