Tapping into Potential

Africa Energy Series: Equatorial Guinea speaks to Franck Poli, General Manager, Trident Equatorial Guinea about the company’s activities in Equatorial Guinea.

In partnership with Kosmos Energy and the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, Trident Energy serves as the operator of Block G (Ceiba and Okume Complex) and a partner in three exploration blocks (EG-21, S and W). Specializing in unlocking the value of mid-life oil and gas assets, Trident has increased the output of its Block G assets to 42,000 barrels per day and has high hopes for upcoming drilling across exploration blocks.

How does Trident find efficiencies and optimizations of mid-life oil and gas assets that other operators overlook?

We leave no stones unturned. This is time intensive work that demands a conscious effort to not overlook anything. We do not pretend that we are doing anything different from other companies, but we accept the fact that what failed for others in the past might work today. We revisit each step of the production process, from the bottom of the well to the export flange. In 2018 and 2019, we installed the first downhole electrical pumps in the country, increasing output and production. We are also trying to react quicker to the issues we face. Greenfield oil projects are easier in the sense that profitability is very high. Mid-life assets are more sensitive to costs, delays and inefficiencies. Therefore, it is our daily job to fight for each barrel and for each pressure loss.

In partnership with Kosmos and Equatorial Guinea, Trident acquired 6,000km2 of 3D seismic across EG-21, S and W. Will Trident be on track to commence drilling in the latter half of 2019?

The partnership involves interpreting the considerable amount of data that was acquired, and there are several very interesting objects that stand out already. Because the area varies from shallow water (less than 40m of depth) to deep water, it would require varied drilling support. Therefore, we need to finish the interpretation, plan adequately and deliver results with the operator of those blocks. Ultimately, we all want to strike oil at the first shot to safeguard each stakeholder’s investment. Nevertheless, while we wait for the full review of the seismic we shot in 2017, we are focusing on a specific area called G-13, which is a prospect we might be able to drill this year. Studies are ongoing, and hopefully, we will be on track to commence drilling in 2019.

How have current market conditions affecting operations in Equatorial Guinea?

Working with lower margins of error forces creativity. We are currently helping a small local company develop its capacities for good stimulations, creating an alternative to the major service companies. We want to keep betting on the local market to protect us from strong variations. Adaptability is key to our industry. After the craziness of oil prices above $100 per barrel in 2014, the industry lost control, the price of services went over the top, operators lost their margins, and the downturn was harsh on everyone. It proves that we need to be both careful and humble.

As a private equity-backed mid-life oil and gas specialist, why did Trident choose this model for financing, and how has it impacted its operations?

Being backed by Warburg Pincus, a major American private equity firm, brings pragmatism and a practical business sense. This industry requires a lot of capital, but capital is not enough. Private equity firms have been extremely successful because behind the capital, there is a strong discipline to do things right. Private equity-backed companies in the U.S. have moved the market toward better performance. This is also true for Trident. For us, it means that our capital is always competing. This highly competitive environment fits well with our way of working. We try and assess the projects quickly, then we commit to delivering what we promised. The success of our business is hardwired to the satisfaction of our stakeholders.