Shell announced that A-7 well on the Ursa Field set a new production record of 50,150 boe. The last production record was a well on BP's Troika Field (Green Canyon 244) that produced 46,475 boe. Shell attributes the new record to cutting-edge technologies like frac-packing and use of 5 1/2-in. tubulars.
The Ursa field tension leg platform is located on Mississippi Canyon 809 in 4,000 ft of water. It came onstream in April, four months early, and has now achieved a production rate of 50,000 b/d of oil and 75 MMcf/d from two wells.
A new well is being completed. Production is transported 47 miles to the West Delta 143 gathering platform, using an 18-in. oil pipeline and 20-in. gas pipeline. Estimated ultimate gross recovery is expected to be 400 MMboe. Shell operates Ursa with 45%; BP Amoco holds 23%; Conoco, 16%; and Exxon, 16%.
OCS Sale 181 likelyto remain on schedule
The Eastern Gulf of Mexico Sale 181, scheduled for December 2001, will likely go on as scheduled, and "substantially intact," according to Chris Oynes, Regional Director
of the US Minerals Management Service. Despite some need for discussion with the state of Florida, which is concerned about tourism values, and the US Department of Defense, which uses the area for missile and fighter training exercises, Oynes said he feels the sale will likely occur, although he cautions nothing can be assured at this early date. A tentative date for the somewhat controversial sale, which involves 1,033 tracts, is December 5, 2001. No new leasing has occurred in the Eastern Gulf for some time.
Florida may not formally oppose the sale, providing the environmental impact statement that has been ordered does not reveal any real danger. There are two reasons:
- Florida's population is growing rapidly and needs power.
- All the acreage involved in the sale is 100 miles or more from its coastline, an arbitrary line Florida would like to preserve untouched.
There has been substantial interest in the Eastern Gulf for some time, even though Florida has consistently taken a stance against drilling near its beaches. The irregularly shaped pendulum of the sale area reflects a mincing concern for Florida's delicate feelings on the matter.
He also noted that the existing leases in the area are subject to "drilling windows," usually between 90 days and 120 days. This allows scheduling of DoD exercises to occur. Amoco's King's Peak was one of the developments subject to windows, which produced no appreciable problems because there was no other work occurring in the area. But when more leases are available in the area, scheduling rig work could be difficult. Oynes said that if this requirement is not withdrawn for the new leases, it could cause problems.
Despite these concerns, Oynes remains optimistic. Judging from the 300+ in attendance at TGS-NOPEC's seminar on the Eastern Gulf, at which Oynes spoke, so is the rest of the industry. One speaker said the area is really the last frontier of the Gulf of Mexico, and one of the last places where companies can start on substantially the same footing in terms of holdings.
Loop currents, lack of specialists cited for rise in costs
British-Borneo cited a difficult market for scarce specialists and technical personnel, as well as severe weather, for the rise in costs associated with its deepwater fields in the Gulf of Mexico, especially Morpeth Field. Chairman Bob Reid said: "This will translate into an additional $20 million for Morpeth, which should therefore close at around a $300 million initial development cost, 7% above the figure reported at the year-end." The Ewing Bank Block 965 field has been in production since October and is producing more than 30,000 boe/d.
British Borneo also said the final figure for Allegheny development on Green Canyon 254 is expected to be $291 million. The SeaStar mono-hull TLP was installed in 3,300 ft of water and the first two wells will be brought onstream next month. Peak production will be 25,000 boe/d, as the third producer is completed and a fourth drilled. Reid said that the two contracted rigs were unable to work throughout much of August and September because of the dangers posed by an unusual combination of severe "loop" currents spinning off from the Gulfstream and a series of tropical storms and hurricanes that have threatened the two work sites.