By Martin Clark
Albania has been fruitful ground for Canadian junior, Bankers Petroleum, which has built up a solid production base from its world class heavy oil assets there.The TSX-listed group is currently getting to grips with a tricky situation, however, after initiating its emergency response plan on April 1 following an unexpected release of carbon dioxide (CO2) gas to the surface.
In an operations update last week, it said that a non-routine surface release of CO2 was encountered during drilling operations although control of the well was established soon after. There were no injuries reported. But it’s a hiccup in what has thus far been a promising and productive enterprise for the group in this somewhat unfashionable corner of Europe.
Bankers recorded average production from its Patos-Marinza and Kuçova oilfields of 19,767 barrels of oil per day (bopd) in the first quarter of 2015.That’s a little less than the fourth quarter of 2014 (20,324 bopd) but still the envy of many an aspiring oil and gas independent the world over.
In a first quarter operational update on April 7, the company announced that it had drilled two wells during the period in the Bubullima reservoir sands in the Patos Marinza field “with positive results”. The 30-day average production rate from these wells reached approximately 200 bopd per well at 75 per cent watercut and 16 degrees API lighter quality oil. It plans to drill two to three additional Bubullima wells this year utilising recent 3-D seismic data for prospect evaluation.
The company has certainly been busy on the ground. In fact, some 21 wells were drilled altogether in the main area of the oilfield during the first quarter, nearly all of them horizontal production wells and now mostly on production.
Bankers has reduced its active rig count down from three to two, however, because of the slump in oil prices. Like so many of its peers, a focus on improving operating cost structure has also been launched as a result of decreased commodity prices.
There have been other issues to contend with as well, though, including severe flooding back in February which caused the company to shut 81 wells in the northern and central area of the Patos-Marinza field due to limited surface access.All these wells were back on stream by the middle of that month and have largely returned to previous production rates.
That leaves the Bankers team with the task of investigating the CO2 gas leak.David French, president and chief executive, said his company is still working with the authorities to help villagers in nearby Marinza recover from the disruption. Some of the company’s own personnel live and work in the village.
“Efforts to further review the incident are ongoing, although our highest priority is assisting the residents in restoring their day-to-day activities,” he said.