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Exploration Success in the Eastern Mediterranean: Levant Basin Gas Discoveries

Needham, Dan; French, Jon; Barrett, Matt; Bruce, Bob; O'Brien, Vanessa; Romero, Gloria; Bogaards, Mark; Van Horn, John; Franco, Gerardo; Fenton, Scott

Since the Tamar discovery in January 2009, Noble Energy and partners have drilled six successful exploration wells discovering over 35 TCF of natural gas in Oligo-Miocene reservoirs in the Levant Basin of the Eastern Mediterranean. This substantial new exploration play includes some of the largest gas discoveries in the world over the last decade.

Early Levant offshore activity began in the 1970's in shallow water without much success. Exploration moved to deeper waters in the 1990's targeting supra-salt Pliocene reservoirs with the first gas discovery in the Levant Basin at Noa-1 in 1999. In 2000, the Mari B field of approximately 1 TCF, was discovered and placed on production in 2004 reaching a peak rate of 600 MMscfd in 2011. Noa and the recent Pinnacles discovery began producing through the Mari B platform in 2012.

Deep-water subsalt exploration began in 2003 with the Hannah-1 dry hole followed by a six year hiatus. A new subsalt- focused exploration and drilling program began in 2009 resulting in gas discoveries at Tamar, Dalit, Leviathan, Dolphin, Tanin, and Cyprus A. The main subsalt play area is over 10,000 square kilometers in water depths of approximately 1300 to 1700 meters.

The Oligo-Miocene reservoir section is comprised of thick deposits of alternating thin silts, mudstones and sandstones, deposited by sandy turbidites in a deep water setting. At Tamar over 250 meters gross thickness of high quality reservoir with >20 % porosity and >500 mD permeability are present. Traps are faulted, four-way closures reaching as large as 300 square kilometers at Leviathan. The gas is biogenic in origin and is comprised of 99% methane.

Including two appraisal wells and four development wells, Noble and partners have drilled twelve wells through the Oligo-Miocene pay section, drill stem tested three wells, performed completion flow backs on five wells and collected over 225 meters of conventional core. Because of water based mud-systems, core calibration has proven critical to petrophysical evaluation, resource assessment and completion design.

Tamar will be the first of the recent discoveries to come online. Initial production at Tamar will be from five wells each capable of producing over 250 MMscfd and with first production scheduled for mid-2013, just over four years after discovery. Tamar production will supply a significant share of the Israeli energy market needs and open up a new chapter in the Eastern Mediterranean oil & gas industry.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90163©2013AAPG 2013 Annual Convention and Exhibition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 19-22, 2013