Offshore Europe

Ramco Energy has sucessfully appraised the Seven Heads gasfield off southern Ireland, and could launch a development next summer.

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Seven Heads well above expectation

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Seven Heads/Galley Head in the Celtic Sea are relatively close to the southern Irish mainland.
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Ramco Energy has sucessfully appraised the Seven Heads gasfield off southern Ireland, and could launch a development next summer. The well, drilled by the semisubmersible Pride North Sea, flowed 13.7 MMcf/d from Upper Wealden sandstone. The result excee-ded expectations, according to Group Financial Director Steven Bartram.

Discussions are in progress with Marathon over a possible subsea development through the Kinsale Head production facilities 24 km to the northeast. The contracted rig could also be used by Ramco to re-appraise Galley Head. Alternatively, should Kinsale tariff discussions stall, Ramco could install a 50 km export pipeline to the Irish mainland.

End of the line for Maureen, Hutton

Phillips' decommissioned Maureen gravity platform - moored in a fjord off western Norway since June - is to be re-used, but not for oil production. Phillips had offered the 110,000-ton steel facility at a knockdown price, but a field match elsewhere could not be found. Decomm-issioning contractor Aker Maritime will therefore dismantle it under an $80 million contract. Around 95% of the platform will be recycled, with steel sections and platform ballast re-formulated as a new quay at Aker's yard in Stord. The same yard will also recycle Maureen's associated articulated oil loading column.

Kerr-McGee and its partners are also seeking buyers for their Hutton tension leg platform (TLP), now that the field is shut-in, following leaks in the oil export pipeline.

Phillips had better news in the Norwegian sector. None of the Ospar member countries have opposed its plan to leave the base of the no-longer-in-use Ekofisk concrete tank on the seabed. Four, bordering the North Sea, have even endorsed it. However, clearance is still awaited from Norway's authorities.

UKCS development picking up

Higher oil prices are reviving the UK's ailing service sector, according to the Offshore Contractors' Association. Chairman Bill Edgar, speaking recently in Aberdeen, claimed there had been a resurgence in commitment to the North Sea by the major operators, contractors, and SMEs. This, in turn, had boosted activity throughout the supply chain. Another positive factor was the emergence of independent operators, which have proven more open to outsourcing field operations than their major counterparts.

Edgar praised the UK's Satellite Accelerator Initiative, which aims to promote new engineering concepts for complex and marginal fields. The two latest opened to innovators are Shell Expro's Curlew A and Curlew C, discovered in 1977 and 1993. With combined reserves of 20 million BOE, Curlew A resides in thin sands in two formations, while Curlew C is housed in chalk.

The project most fabricators really covet is BP's Clair, an upcoming £650 million development west of Shetland in relatively shallow water, based on a traditional platform. Wood Group Engineering has just been appointed to handle detail design, procurement, and construction management. BP aims to extract at least 250 million bbl under a first development phase.

Off England's northwest coast, Burlington Resources is making plans for an unmanned gas production platform on Calder in the Irish Sea, tied over time to four other fields in the area known as the Rivers complex. Combined reserves could total 400 bcf, with production piped to a new compression plant at an existing terminal at Barrow. Shell is also considering putting in three small platforms on gas discoveries in the Cleaver Bank High region in the southern North Sea.

Siri's mid-term future secured

Recent oil finds in the Danish North Sea should prolong the life of the Siri facilities to at least 2008. Operator Statoil discovered a new oil patch, named Stine, east of the main reservoir in Palaeogene sandstones. It then moved quickly to drill a horizontal appraisal well from the Siri platform, which tested at over 23,000 b/d.

Statoil has since applied to the Danish authorities to convert the well to a producer, which would boost production through the platform to 40,000 b/d.

The platform will also likely serve as a processing host to two nearby developments planned by state oil concern Dong. These relate to Cecilie, 12 km to the southwest and Nini, 31 km to the northeast, both discovered in 1999-2000. Both fields may also require wellhead platforms, with provision for water injection and gas lift. The project could be approved by April, leading to start-up mid-2003.

Clyde maintains 'Q' track record

Clyde Petroleum's latest Q-quadrant discovery is also its largest in 10 years of drilling in the Dutch sector. Well Q4-10, drilled by the jackup Noble Lynda Bossler in 25 meters water depth, tested at 43 MMcf/d gross from a lower 56 meters perforated interval, and 39 MMcf/d gross from an upper 40 meters perforated interval. Both tests were staged over limited perforation intervals within longer reservoir sections.

The location is 6 km north of Clyde's Q4-A gasfield, which came onstream last December as a satellite to the P/6-A facilities 35 km to the southwest. Much of the discovery lies in Clyde's Q1 block, and has therefore been re-named Q1-A. Early this year Clyde bought Unocal's 48% interest in the license covering the block's deeper gas-bearing horizons. Analyst Wood Mackenzie said the discovery could hold 200 bcf recoverable reserves. It also represents Clyde's fifth successive find in the Triassic Bunter sandstone formation since early 2000. With further exploration upside to the north, a substantial standalone development seems on the cards.

Clyde recently fast-tracked development of one of these discoveries, P6-D, through relocation of a multi-purpose platform from its depeleted P2-SE Field. This is the company's third field to come onstream in the sector this year, boosting Dutch North Sea output by 170 MMcf/d.

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