Premier may defer closure of Balmoral in the North Sea

Premier Oil is working on plans to decommission the Balmoral field area in the UK central North Sea.

Offshore staff

LONDONPremier Oil is working on plans to decommission the Balmoral field area in the UK central North Sea.

These include disposal and sale of theBalmoral floating production vessel.

Some decommissioning work is already under way, with Helix Well Op’sSeawell intervention vessel having entered four old suspended Balmoral water injection wells to compile information on their status and to prepare them for abandonment later.

However, after re-evaluating the performance of fields in the area, Premier is considering moving cessation of production to 2021, subject to partner and UK government approvals.

To achieve this, further investments may be needed to maintain the performance and integrity of the wells, subsea and topsides, with an appropriate level of decommissioning planning works continuing at the same time.

In the same area, development drilling continues on theCatcher area, which produced first oil late last year. The Ensco 100 is currently drilling the CCP6 well on the second Catcher template and will drill a further Catcher well before transferring to the Burgman field.

Premier aims to have a total of 18 wells drilled by September 2018 before a planned break. In the meantime, the partners are examining future development opportunities to make full use of the newly commissioned facilities.

Studies are under way for the2016 Laverda discovery in conjunction with an infill well in the northern area of the Catcher field. These activities could provide incremental production from 2020 onwards.

In the southern UK sector, the company and its partners have chosen a standalone normally unmanned installation and a new gas export pipeline to shore for theTolmount gas field development.

Bids are under development from rig providers for the development drilling program, and for drilling of the Tolmount East appraisal well in 2019.

At the Premier-operated Babbage field in the same sector, field operating costs have fallen by more than 20% now that the platform has transitioned to a not permanently attended installation.

Due to this and the improved production performance, Premier expects the facilities to remain in service now beyond 2030.

At the Rita gas field, production has re-started after being shut in for almost two years.

West of Shetland, Premier has successfully installed and commissioned a water injection upgrade and produced water handling facilities on the Solan platform, and a new round of drilling may start in 2019 or 2020 to improve production.

Although the company has reduced its estimates of Solan’s remaining net 2P reserves, this does not take account of any potential upside from the deeper Triassic play on the Solan license or the impact of any potential third-party volumes across the Solan infrastructure, currently undergoing assessment.


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