Savonette: Treasures of the deep

"I feel fortunate to have contributed to delivering Savonette. While solidifying my technical expertise, working on Savonette has allowed me to grow both from a career and personal perspective. I feel proud to be a national, a geophysicist but most of all an assertive woman of confidence and future leader in bpTT" -- Alicia Gargee

“The latest well on Savonette is of significant importance to both BP and Trinidad and Tobago.” These were the words of BP Trinidad and Tobago Regional President Norman Christie when joined by Minister of Energy and Energy Affairs Kevin Ramnarine for a tour of the Savonette platform and Rowan EXL II drilling rig on January 18.

Christie said: “By the time we’re finished drilling on this facility it will be producing close to one billion cubic feet a day of gas. It’s significant from a revenue generation standpoint, from a job creation standpoint and it’s something about which both BP and T&T should be proud“.

In truth, the country and the business had not been this excited about a find for a long time.

The story of Savonette has had its twists and turns but those who know the story best are still relishing the well-earned taste of success.

BP Trinidad and Tobago has ownership in 904,000 acres off Trinidad’s east coast. The Savonette platform is one of bpTT’s five locally designed and manufactured platforms using a standardized design. Savonette wells 1 through 6 are currently producing and drilling well 7 is part of the drilling programme for 2014.

At the very beginning, poor quality seismic imaging was flagged as one of the major challenges but the business was confident the Columbus Basin would reveal its secrets. Then in 2004, the Chachalaca discovery well for the Savonette field pointed to upwards of two trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas in place. 

It was certainly a sign of things to come.

Senior Geophysicist in the Reservoir Management team, Alicia Gargee, remembers: “When the exploration well was coming in, the Vice President of Exploration at the time, held a celebration for the team where he brought out the “log” to show us; he was so excited to show us the viable sands, which is what we are currently producing from today. It was an unforgettable moment.”

At the time she didn’t know just how involved she would be in capitalizing on those first signs of promise. In 2007, after she’d returned from her Houston assignment, she started work on Savonette. 

“I have worked through all of the stages of development on the Savonette field project. From stage one in Major Projects through to where Phase 1 drilling commenced with a 4-well program followed by production and post-production field management. During this time, I had the opportunity to visit the TOFCO (Trinidad Offshore Fabricators Unlimited) yard and saw the platform being built,” she recalled. “At that time of drilling, we didn’t have a New Wells Delivery (NWD) team to hand off to, as we do now; it was an embedded function. Each member of the subsurface team working Savonette at the time was responsible for a well and we had to work with the right people to deliver. Each of us was an SPA – Single Point of Accountability - and I was the SPA for the Sav 2 well.”

Insight and innovation was the order of the day. 

Jesus Hackshaw, Offshore Installation Manager (OIM) picked up the story: “Most of (the platform) was (built) in La Brea; it was loaded out in December of 2008. We started up the first well in December 2009. That was the first time we had gas going from Savonette to the Mahogany B hub. By all accounts, it was one of the smoothest, most classic start-ups.”

It was almost too easy. Sav 2 was the first appraisal well. It went into a fault block west of Sav 1 and was targeting the same reservoir as in Sav 1. “We had no data within that fault block,” Gargee explained. “From the very beginning, the seismic data over Savonette had been very challenging. The field had a lot of shallow gas issues coupled with complex faulting so the imaging wasn’t great.”

“There was also a lot of uncertainty in terms of what this well was going to encounter, so we made a decision to drill a ‘pilot hole’ instead of an initial producer. From there, we were able to obtain a lot of information. We continued on to drill the production borehole, but along the way, we encountered some major well instability issues. You might think that, that was a bad thing, but a lot of learnings came out of it which in the end contributed towards delivering safely, the best in the rest of the wells for the project – not just from a drilling perspective but also integration, communication and management. The One Team factor really started to come out. We made a commitment to capitalize on the learnings when we moved on to Sav 3 and 4. We made a commitment to deliver.”

Sav wells 1, 2, and 3 were flowing, Sav 4 had been partially drilled but the Deep-Water Horizon incident caused the company to take a step back and assess all of its drilling projects. A new phase of drilling began in 2012.

Says Hackshaw: “The Rowan EXL II drilling rig came on in June 2012 and we went back onto Sav 4 to finish the well. Sav 4 was billed as a counter regional well, which really means you have a little exploration piece in it.”

Remembering the exhilaration of the moment, Gargee explained, “When the business decided to continue drill-out of Sav 4 (after a two year hiatus), the second appraisal well, it was all very exciting. We re-evaluated the subsurface interpretation then reviewed the numbers and came up with a pretty big range. There was some uncertainty as the imaging above and at target depth was very challenged but based on our estimates the business was moving forward. I had to turn my attention to working towards delivering a drillable well, to going through all the required stages for the NWD team to take it forward. It all took place in a very intense timeframe. 

“My geologist and I worked long hours to refine the subsurface understanding, optimize the trajectory work, secure the data acquisition program and integrate this effort with the NWD and Wells teams to ensure the best option for delivering success on Sav 4. When we got down to Savonette 4 sands, we hit a discovery. Our numbers turned out to be modest.”
“It was one of my most special moments to deliver something that big. That’s one of the things you really live for, to really affect the business in that way. We all did a good job,” said Hackshaw.

“Sav 4 is the largest net producer for BP Global, and essentially bpTT. Because of that find we did Sav 5, 6 and 7. Although we had a lot of drilling issues, when you look at the bigger picture of just going to do Sav 4 alone and in two years turning around four wells, that’s a huge success. And these are very, very complex wells. It’s a real turn around and a real prize that we got. The success of Sav 4 indicates that we can do big complex wells and in good time. Sav 4 hit a sweet spot.”
The Sav 5 well quickly followed in a matter of months and was placed to drain these reserves in addition to what was already on production. The business needed more gas and Savonette stepped up to deliver. Sav 6 was executed soon after and was drilled to a depth of 18,270 MD feet by the Rowan EXL II rig. Although it too had challenges, it is the deepest well drilled in Savonette field to date.

Drilling Engineer, Sherissa Sooklal was also part of the team. “Savonette is special in terms of the volumes and rates we were able to access on that platform. It is quite unlike any other that we have at BP right now. It’s some of the biggest wells in the BP world. It is also a difficult field to drill, it is a very different subsurface environment compared with some of our other fields,” she added.

Her colleague, Shanna Singh, agreed: “Because we didn’t plan for as many wells as we drilled, one of our biggest challenges was getting equipment in country and ensuring there was no waiting time on equipment. We had equipment for four wells, possibly a fifth, but not for seven wells. Also with a lot of subsurface uncertainty, we’ve had a fair amount of side-tracks. But our success will impact the country for some time to come.”

Over at Reservoir Development, the story is far from over.

“I think there is still a lot of potential left in the field. The recently acquired Ocean Bottom Cable (OBC) seismic data is going to be very critical to unlocking the future of Savonette,” Gargee confided. “Solving Savonette’s current technical issues required a step change in imaging. The new seismic data will definitely be a game changer.”

She added: “As I reflected upon this entire experience, I suddenly realised that it has changed my whole perspective on what I do here at BP every day.  Just imagine, something you do at your desk daily which you may take for granted at times, can have such a huge impact on the people and country in which you live and work. The natural gas resources that we produce, isn’t just exported to fill our contracts and meet other external demands but it also goes to the domestic market, to the National Gas Company (NGC) where it is used to power the national grid which in turn provides electricity to everybody’s home  on our twin island state. The revenues and taxes we get from what we sell, informs the national budget, through which the government can provide benefits such as pension to my mother. I started to recognise that what I do in my job is very important and that I make a difference. 

Since that realization, every day that I come to work is a new, exciting and rewarding experience. Savonette has taught me many lessons both good and bad. I never saw the work I did as a task but rather a challenge. There was always something unpredictable but exciting happening. I feel fortunate to have contributed to delivering Savonette. While solidifying my technical expertise, working on Savonette has allowed me to grow both from a career and personal perspective. I feel proud to be a national, a geophysicist but most of all an assertive woman of confidence and future leader in bpTT.”