Exclusive Interview with Brian Maxted, Chief Exploration Officer of Kosmos
Brian F. Maxted is Kosmos’ Chief Exploration Officer and a member of the board of directors.
Mr. Maxted served as chief executive officer for three years and led all aspects of the business to create a world-class organization before choosing to return to exploration. Before co-founding Kosmos in 2003, he was senior vice president of exploration for Triton Energy, where he led a series of discoveries offshore Equatorial Guinea. He also managed the discovery of several large gas/condensate fields by Carigali-Triton Operating Company in the Malaysia-Thailand Joint Development Area and the discovery and confirmation of Colombia’s giant Cusiana and Cupiagua oil fields. He also led the company’s Gulf of Mexico deepwater strategy. Prior to its recent acquisition, Mr. Maxted was a member of the board of directors of Broad Oak Energy, a company that focuses on improving recovery from mature U.S. onshore oil and gas producing regions.
Mr. Maxted will be the Keynote Speaker on Day 1 of the conference, the 23rd November, discussing “The exploration and development of a world-scale hydrocarbon resource offshore Mauritania and Senegal”.
1. Can you tell us about the exploration program you have conducted thus far offshore Mauritania and Senegal?
The first phase of exploration offshore Mauritania and Senegal, which was completed earlier this year, was designed to test the primary prospect on each of the three in-board slope / channel fairways of the Senegal River, including the central, north and south systems. Respectively, the campaign, resulted in the finding of three significant fields, including Tortue, Marsouin and Teranga with a 100 percent success rate. Together with the successful appraisal and delineation of Tortue by the Guembuel-1 and Ahmeyim-2 wells, we have delivered our goal of demonstrating 15 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of gas for a first phase development. Combined with Marsouin and Teranga, in aggregate, the drilling to date has conservatively discovered around 25 Tcf of gas resource and de-risked a total resource base of more than 50 Tcf of gas in the inboard fairways.
2. Can you give us an update on the cross-border Tortue gas project?
Both Mauritania and Senegal recognize the many benefits that the Tortue gas project and the large gas discoveries will bring to the two countries over the long term. LNG exports will make both countries valuable energy suppliers to the world for many years to come and generate revenue that can be invested in the development of other sectors – such as healthcare, education, and infrastructure – for the benefit of people in both countries. The project will also make available a reliable and competitively priced source of fuel to Mauritania and Senegal’s domestic markets, which over time will enable the creation and expansion of local industry, leading to direct and indirect job growth.
President Aziz of Mauritania and President Sall of Senegal fully support the project. They have asked the ministries of energy and national oil companies to work with Kosmos to develop a plan for commercializing the shared gas resource. A Working Group comprised of the national oil companies, representatives of the Ministries of Energy, and Kosmos has been meeting regularly since November 2015 to move the project forward.
The Working Group has made significant progress on the plan for developing the gas resource. While the discovered and potential gas resources across the Mauritania-Senegal basin are currently estimated at more than 50 Tcf, the Working Group has agreed to develop the resource incrementally beginning with the cross-border Tortue field. The Tortue field contains high-quality, accessible gas. The field can be developed quickly, with the gas sold on the global LNG market at first production. The Working Group’s small-scale, phased approach represents the fastest and most competitive way for the two countries to begin initial LNG exports and deliver early gas to the domestic markets. The current development concept will produce approximately eight (8) Tcf of gas over 30 years.
Several important project milestones have been reached. A near-shore site, approximately eight (8) kilometers from the coast on the maritime boundary, has been agreed by both governments as the location of gas processing and liquefaction facilities. An environmental and social impact assessment is beginning to ensure the site and development concept are environmentally sound, and that any potential social impacts are properly addressed. Concurrently, work continues to validate the technical viability of the site selected.
While we have made considerable progress since the gas discoveries were first announced, there remains a lot of work to be done. The Working Group continues to meet regularly to discuss the commercial, legal, and technical framework for the joint project, with the goal of signing a formal intergovernmental cooperation agreement later this year. First gas production is several years away and will require continued cooperation and a significant investment from Kosmos, PETROSEN and SMHPM.
3. Where else in the MSGBC basin do you think there is promising hydrocarbon potential? Where do you foresee Kosmos’ next big discovery?
We continue to believe there is tremendous potential offshore Mauritania and Senegal. Based on our analysis of well results and interpretation of new and existing seismic data, we believe that the deepwater Mauritania and Senegal basin is progressively growing into one of the largest and most important new petroleum systems ever opened along the Atlantic Margins. With a super major-scale potential resource base, including for both gas and oil, we are focused on continuing to de-risk the basin for future exploration and development.
The new prospects we have identified are some of the largest un-drilled exploration opportunities known to the industry today along the Atlantic Margins. In addition, two further 3D seismic surveys are planned for northern and southern Mauritania during the third and fourth quarter of this year respectively, and we fully expect the potential resource base will continue to grow further as new data becomes available. We anticipate beginning a second multi-well program mid-2017 to test this multi-billion barrel potential.
4. What are you most looking forward to at the MSGBC Summit and Exhibition?
We look forward to seeing our colleagues from across the industry gather together to talk about a truly special frontier basin opportunity. It’s an exciting time to be doing business in Mauritania and Senegal and we look forward to being a part of its bright future.