--> --> Once upon a time…in the Colombian Foothills: The Cusiana-Cupiagua Story

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Once upon a time…in the Colombian Foothills: The Cusiana-Cupiagua Story


This case history from Colombia shows that frontier plays can also sit on your doorstep, in a province with a well-established geological framework and in spite of 17 previous unsuccessful wells. The point of departure was a farm-out opportunity on a block located on the easternmost margin of the Cordillera Oriental. A critical analysis of the petroleum system and the technical and business conditions could be summarized as follows. The negatives: low porosity of the reservoirs, recent Andean trap-creating tectonics (5Ma) with a chance to postdate the main charging events, difficult costly drilling (depth > 4,000m). The positives: presence of a Cretaceous source rock, stratigraphically equivalent to the world-class La Luna of the Maracaibo Basin, oil & gas shows encountered in past wells, an undisputable sizable 4-way closure. At the end it was decided to give a chance to the half-full glass rather than half-empty option and make a deal (Total and BP as farm-in partners and Triton the rights owner). The result was the amazing discovery of Cusiana, a giant accumulation with a 500 m column of hydrocarbons. A second structural feature was successfully drilled, giving birth to Cupiagua, another giant field. These 2 discoveries contained in excess of 1,400 MMB, with a production plateau of 500,000b/d. Some important keys for success and messages for risk management can be derived from the case: need for an optimistic and perseverant attitude, unforgiving risk analysis, positive view of past failures, genuine relationship of confidence between explorers and decision-makers, a key to reaching a consensus on accepting to expose huge amounts of money on such high risk projects.