June 1, 2006
Strong output from the North Sea Grane oilfield lifted Hydro’s daily production in the first quarter of 2006 to 610,000 boe - its second-highest performance for any three-month period.

Jeremy Beckman, London


Grane, Kristin lift Hydro’s production

Strong output from the North Sea Grane oilfield lifted Hydro’s daily production in the first quarter of 2006 to 610,000 boe - its second-highest performance for any three-month period. Grane, the subject of a technical presentation at OTC, averaged 215,000 b/d (82,000 b/d net to Hydro). The company also benefited from start-ups at the Oseberg Vestflanken, and Ringhorne East fields, offsetting production losses from Visund.

Hydro’s gas production averaged 208,000 boe in the period, 30,000 boe/d up on the first quarter of 2005. The main contributors in the Norwegian sector were Kvitebjorn and the newly onstream Kristin in the Norwegian Sea.

At a presentation in London, Executive Vice President John Ottestad said the company’s main current Norwegian development project, Ormen Lange, was now two-thirds completed and on-track to start producing in October 2007. “This project is also important to our international credibility,” he added, citing Hydro’s inclusion on the bid list for Shtokman in the Russian Barents Sea, alongside Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Statoil and Total. Gazprom had asked Hydro to put in a standalone bid, although the winners will be pulled together into a consortium.

As for the Norwegian side of the Barents Sea, Hydro was satisfied with its award of two operated blocks in Norway’s recent 19th Round. But the board regarded the still off-limits Nordland offshore regions to the south as being more prospective. Worldwide, Ottestad foresaw a very active year of exploration ahead, with Hydro participating in 60 wells, including up to 25 across the Norwegian shelf.

Disraeli delivers for Oilexco

In the UK Central North Sea, Oilexco reports a significant oil discovery on its 65% owned Disraeli prospect. The well on block 21/23a intersected a 90-ft oil column in Eocene Tay sandstone, on the western flank of a structure defined by 3D seismic data. Disraeli also lies just to the south-west of PetroCanada’s Saxon, a 2005 oil find in a similar geological setting.

Having plugged the wellbore, Oilexco proceeded to drill an extended reach side-track to evaluate the oil column at the structure’s crest. This confirmed the presence of a thin gas cap and oil in inter-bedded sands. The company and its partner Sterling Resources plan further appraisal of the structure’s south and east flanks, including coring and well testing, although drilling must wait until the semisubmersibleSedco 712 completes the single production well on Oilexco’s Nicol field development in the same sector. Oilexco also announced it had extended its contract for this rig through to March 2010: the dayrate from March 2008 will increase to $340,000 a day, compared to the present $140,000.

GDF Britain also has a new find, 170-km off England’s Lincolnshire coast in the southern gas basin. The Cygnus 44/12-2 well encountered numerous gas-bearing zones within Rotiegendes and Carboniferous horizons. Managing Director Mark Hughes said the result confirmed a northern extension of prospectivity in this part of the southern sector. GDF is already working on pre-development studies, and expects to make a commercial decision on a development by the end of this year. The main accessible offshore trunklines are CMS and Eagles on the UK side, and the Nord transport system to Uithuizen in The Netherlands.

Again in the southern UK sector, ConocoPhillips has contracted Lowestoft-based SLP to supply two-slot wellhead platforms (total weight around 625 tons) for Mimas and Tethys in blocks 48/9a and 49/1lb. Gas from both these small accumulations will be sent through separate 10-in. flowlines to the Saturn platform, brought onstream by the same operator last year.

Cavendish platform undergoing load-out.
Click here to enlarge image

Another development coming together in this region is RWE Dea’s Cavendish. The six-slot, four-leg platform was recently loaded out of Heerema’s yard in Vlissingen. First production is due this fall.

Shell moves ahead with Trym

Prospects for a multi-field project spanning Danish-Norwegian waters have receded. Main instigator Dong had tried to drum up support for a new platform at Amerada Hess’ Arne South complex, which would have grouped together Norske Shell’s Trym and merada’s Mjoelner structures on the Norwegian side, with Dong’s Amalie and ConocoPhillips’ Hejre in the Danish sector.

Norske Shell, however, is moving ahead with its own scheme for Trym, a small gas-condensate field discovered in 1990. The development plan involves a single subsea well, tied back via a 6-km, 8-in. pipeline to Maersk’s Harald processing complex - if approved, it would still be the first cross-border project in this part of the North Sea.

According to London-based analysts Scanboss, lack of available jackups means Norske Shell is committed to using a semisubmersible for the trilateral well, despite the shallow water depth (67 m).

At the moment, this looks like being theTransocean Arctic, with the three-month well due to be spudded in March 2007. Aker Kvaerner Subsea is providing the umbilical, and Vetco Gray the subsea tree. A new riser will also likely be fitted to the Harald production complex, which already handles third-party production from the Lulita accumulation.

ScanBoss understands that ConocoPhillips has its own plan for Hejre, a high-pressure, high-temperature oil field in Late Jurassic sandstones in the northern part of the Danish Central Graben. This could involve development through a wellhead platform exporting through a 25-km pipeline to a new processing platform on Arne South. As with Trym, first production looks unlikely before 2008. Amalie, meanwhile, needs further appraisal work before proceeding to development.

BP to quit Dutch scene

BP is looking to sell its exploration and production interests in the Dutch sector, most of which were inherited following the takeover of Amoco in 1998. Cumulatively, these achieved net gas production of around 62 MMcf/d in 2005.

The company’s main active offshore assets are eight gas fields in the P15 and P18 licenses, largely discovered by Amoco in the 1980s, and developed the following decade. Gas processing is handled on the P15-D platform, which is bridge-linked to the P15-C and P15-A installations. Subsequent tiebacks include four wellhead installations on the larger gas structures, and three subsea wells.

There are over 70-km of interfield pipelines between the satellites and the P15-D platform; processed gas is sent to Maasvlake, near Rotterdam, via a 40-km, 26-in export pipeline, which BP operates. On Wintershall’s behalf, it also operates the P14 satellite platform, likewise the Q16 subsea well for NAM.