Offshore Europe

Jan. 1, 1996
Jeremy Beckman London Location of Conoco's Banff oilfield, where an early production test is due to start this August. Statoil appears to have settled on a semisub floater for the Aasgard gas development off mid-Norway. Norway's concrete construction specialists were hoping for a monotower solution, but Statoil's figures showed a NKr1 billion saving using a semisub, including a 12-month shorter lead time over a fixed concrete platform.
Jeremy Beckman

Concrete out of Aasgard picture?

Statoil appears to have settled on a semisub floater for the Aasgard gas development off mid-Norway. Norway's concrete construction specialists were hoping for a monotower solution, but Statoil's figures showed a NKr1 billion saving using a semisub, including a 12-month shorter lead time over a fixed concrete platform.

Ten of the companies in Norway's 12-strong Gas Supply Committee (FU) have also recommended that Aasgard be allocated to fulfill contracts signed with utilities in Germany and France, amounting to 11 bcm/yr. Their recommendations to the Ministry of Industry and Energy state that the field could be ready to deliver first gas from October 2000. Karsto or Kollsnes are the options for the pipeline landfall.

A minority in the FU, Norsk Hydro and Elf, want 2 bcm of the committed gas to come from the Hydro-operated Oseberg Field, beginning in 2000. This would necessitate installation of gas processing equipment at Oseberg, as well as a link to Norway's gas line export network. It would also encourage the field's partners to develop oilfield satellites to the east and south, says Elf.

Norway's parliament (Storting) will vote on the issue this spring. Further supplies are due to be negotiated with distributors in Italy, Spain, and the Czech Republic.

HMV's luck turns with Visund award

Aker and Kvaerner will be watching the Aasgard situation closely, having just lost out to Haugesund Mekaniske Verkstad on Visund. Operator Norsk Hydro has awarded a letter of intent to HMV for a semisub for this oil development in block 34/8, based on the GVA 8000 design.

The NKr3 billion construction will result in a 23,000 tonne platform with slots for 21 subsea wells and production capacity of 100,000b/d. First oil is due in summer 1998, in water depths of around 330 meters. Aker had submitted a version of its P45 concept which Hydro had accepted for its Njord development.

Other Norwegian floaters in the offing could include Saga's Varg and Esso Norge's Elli. Esso has also shaken hands, finally, with Smedvig on the Balder Field floater contract. As well as purchasing Smedvig's newbuild production ship SPU 380 for this project, Esso has agreed development drilling and operation support services contracts with Smedvig. Government approval for Balder is expected this month.

Further finds reported off Elli

Just south of Elli, in the Norwegian North Sea, Esso has been sustaining Norway's hot exploration streak. Two sidetracks from its Tau discovery well 25/8-8S encountered further hydrocarbons. West of Elli is Conoco's recent find, 25/7-3, but inter-relation between these three prospects has yet to be declared.

Elf's effort in well 25/5/5, 6 km east of Heimdal, also proved positive. Semisub Vildkat Explorer, drilling to a T/D of 2,600 meters, tested oil in Palaeocene sandstone at 2,860b/d and gas at 13,200 cu m/d, through a 38mm choke.

Also in Norway, Amoco penetrated successfully the 35MM bbl Hod Saddle prospect, via a 4,600 meter well drilled from the Hod platform, including a final 1,200m horizontal section through a chalk formation. Production is expected to start shortly. And Statoil confirmed a small oil discovery in Upper Jurassic rocks close to the Statfjord North satellite via extension of production well 33/9-F-1 H. This and other prospects will be further explored in 1996.

Artist's impression of the Banff Field early production system.

Conoco lines up FPS for MacCulloch

Conoco has joined the major league of floating production system operators in UK waters. First it announced that the near 100,000 dwt tanker Dagmar Maersk would be converted for use on the MacCulloch oilfield in central North Sea block 15/24b, with first production likely this December.

The vessel will be converted in a UK yard by North Sea Production Company, a joint venture between Tenenge/SLP and Maersk UK. Storage capacity will be 550,000 bbl, with facilities for water injection at up to 72,000 b/d as well as gas lift/export. Oil and associated gas will be piped through two new 30 km lines to the Piper B platform for onward export to Scotland.

Conoco will manage pre-drilling of three horizontal production wells starting in April, with up to five water injection wells ensuing, depending on initial productivity. But once production is under way, NSPC will manage the vessel and support services during the field's five-year life, largely unaided by Conoco. Conoco rates MacCulloch reserves at 58 MMbbl and 15 million cf/gas, but has been coy about costs: analyst Wood Mackenzie estimates capex at 58 million, and annual OPEX, including transportation, at 80 million.

Conoco has also assigned a floater for early production on its Banff Field in block 29/2a, 200 miles east of Aberdeen. TAP Alliance will manage this six-month operation, starting this August, providing a semisub floater (Sedco 707), pipelines and the Stena Savonita shuttle tanker for oil offtake. Around 5.5MM bbl should be recovered, with associated gas flared away, but gas transportation options will be studied for a future full-scale development.

Currently, oil reserves are thought to be anything from 20-110 MM bbl. Two forthcoming deviated wells (on top of the three wells already drilled on the structure since 1991) will hopefully clarify the picture. With no nearby pipelines, a floater looks like the full-scale production option, possibly tying in Mobil's Kyle prospect close to the south-west.

Dutch operators enhance gas stock

Gas production offshore The Netherlands has been swelled by two new field start-ups and a discovery. NAM's first subsea completion, L13-FA-1, is a one-well installation linked to the K15-FA-1 production platform by a 10km steel pipeline. At peak, output will stretch to 1.7mcm/d.

Elf Petroland brought onstream the K5B satellite field in the K5a block complex. This development comprises two horizontal wells which will eventually produce 49mcm/d, processed on the K5 central complex. Elf also announced that exploration well L4-7 in block L4a, 170km northwest of Den Helder, flowed 23mcf/d through a 40/64in. choke. Further evaluation is planned.

UK steps up Atlantic licensing

Britain's frontier push continues, with the government offering 41 new exploration tranches west of Scotland in the UK's 17th licensing round. Only four wells have been drilled in recent years in this area, known as the Rockall Trough - the latest being Conoco's 154/03 in 1991. All carry tight hole status. Water depths vary from 200-1,000 meters.

Altogether, 275 blocks are being auctioned in remote areas around the UK, in tranches ranging from two to 13 blocks. Eight tranches are available off southwest England, with a further nine north of the Shetlands. Due to the lack of data available on these regions, application times have been relaxed somewhat: bids are not due in until November 27. This gives bidders time to shoot and process new seismic. And agreed work program periods have been extended from the usual six years to nine.

Copyright 1996 Offshore. All Rights Reserved.