Offshore Ghana Drilling Kicks Off

Last week, London-listed Ophir Energy (LSE: OPHR  ) announced that it began drilling the Starfish-1 well offshore Ghana.

The well, which lies in Ophir's Accra production sharing contract (PSC), is located in water depths of 4,920 feet and has a target depth of 12,630 feet. It is expected to take 40 days to complete.

"The Starfish-1 well is a playfinder exploration well designed to test a potential eastwards extension of the transform margin play. The well kicks off an acceleration of Ophir's drilling operations into a broader gas and oil exploration program, with four new oil plays being targeted in the next 12 months in addition to the ongoing gas exploration in Tanzania," said Ophir's CEO Nick Cooper in a company statement.

According to Ophir's estimates, the Starfish prospect could hold mean prospective resources of around 292 million barrels of oil equivalent with a 20% chance of success.

The Starfish-1 well is being drilled by the Stena DrillMax, an ultra deepwater drillship and is Ophir's first well in Ghana. The company holds a 20% interest in the Accra PSC.

Other projects offshore Ghana
Ophir's announcement follows an important development last month, when the Ghanaian government gave Tullow Oil and its joint venture partners the green light to begin developing another major offshore oil development – the so-called Tweneboa-Enyenra-Ntomme, or TEN, project.

The project, which lies roughly 40 miles offshore Ghana and about 20 miles west of Tullow's flagship Jubilee Field, is expected to produce first oil in 2016, with a projected plateau production rate of 80,000 barrels of oil per day.

Tullow, which rose to fame for its 2007 discovery of the Jubilee oil field offshore Ghana, holds a roughly 50% stake in the TEN project. The remaining 50% is divided among Kosmos Energy (NYSE: KOS  ) , Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE: APC  ) , PetroSA, and Ghana's state-owned Ghana National Petroleum.

Ghana oil outlook
Ophir and Tullow's announcement are positive developments for Ghana, West Africa's second-largest economy. As output from the Jubilee field, the TEN project, and other sites rises, Ghana expects its oil production to more than double to 250,000 barrels a day by 2021.

Over the next five to eight years, the GNPC plans to spend about $20 billion to develop Jubilee and other discoveries, according to its chief executive Nana Boakye Asafu-Adjaye.

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