Zafiro halts production as water enters FPU

Zafiro has halted production after water entered the floating production unit (FPU), with the operator evacuating non-essential workers.

The Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons passed on the notice from Mobil Equatorial Guinea Inc. (MEGI), which noted the entry of water into the Zafiro Producer vessel.

The ministry said the ship and the associated Jade platform had halted production. The ship is stable, the ministry said. There has been no loss of life and no environmental damage.

MEGI and the ministry have said their top concern is keeping those onboard safe.

An Exxon representative confirmed there had been “a limited water ingress on the Zafiro Producer vessel”. The vessel is safe, the official confirmed, but production is currently stopped.

“We are working diligently to safely resolve the situation and resume full production.”

The Zafiro field is in Block B, west of Bioko Island. The FPU was originally an FPSO, before the operator converted it into an FPU in 2000. The Serpentina FPSO now stores production.

ExxonMobil reported net production of 19,000 barrels per day from Equatorial Guinea in 2021, down from 31,000 bpd in 2020. The company is considering its options on withdrawing from the country.

Exxon has a 71% stake in Zafiro. Talk in the market has named potential bidders as Trident Energy, Savannah Energy and Vaalco Energy. The US supermajor relinquished acreage in Equatorial Guinea in 2021.

Zafiro began producing in 1996, with output peaking at 280,000 bpd in 2004. However, it declined to around 90,000 bpd in early 2020. It is now reported to be below 30,000 bpd. Exxon’s licence expires in 2025.

Updated at 8:24 pm with Exxon quote. 

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