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Saga is proposing a dedicated condensate pipeline for Mid-Norway. The line would carry light oil not only from Saga's recent Kristin and Lavrans discoveries, but also from Asgard and Tyrihans and any future Halten Bank finds. No length or landfall site has been mentioned yet: the Asgard gas line which will dock in Kaarsto will be 695 km long. A key factor in whether the project goes ahead will be the outcome of current well tests on Kristin.


Halten Bank condensate line under review

Saga is proposing a dedicated condensate pipeline for Mid-Norway. The line would carry light oil not only from Saga's recent Kristin and Lavrans discoveries, but also from Asgard and Tyrihans and any future Halten Bank finds. No length or landfall site has been mentioned yet: the Asgard gas line which will dock in Kaarsto will be 695 km long. A key factor in whether the project goes ahead will be the outcome of current well tests on Kristin.

Norway's gas plans continue to roll forward. The Kollsnes compressor plant is being upgraded in order to boost pressure, and hence export capacity, in the Zeepipe and Europipe I lines. The target is a 40% rise in throughput, commencing ahead of schedule this summer. The logic of this scheme was confirmed by yet another new export deal for Norway's GFU committee, this time for 3 bcm/yr over two decades to the Czech Republic.

Norwegian oil production also maintains its surge, with Edinburgh analysts Wood Mackenzie predicting a 5% rise this year to an average of 3.41 million b/d (probably higher following routine maintenance shutdowns). Longer term, Esso Norge will add to the pool now that its $310 million Jotun Field development is under way. Kvaerner is supplying the wellhead platform and production ship, which at peak will produce 90,000b/d, with 585,000 bbl storage capability.

Statoil is close to submitting a plan for joint exploitation of its Kvitebjorn and Huldra oil and gas fields as likely subsea tiebacks to the Gullfaks complex. On the central Gullfaks reservoir, Statoil aims to eke out further pockets of oil through application of coiled tubing-drilled wells on 23 untapped targets.

Denmark relaxes license terms

All Denmark's unlicensed acreage east of 6 degrees 15 minutes is being opened to bidders under a new open-door policy which will operate for the first nine months of the year. The Danish Energy Agency sees further exploration potential in these waters, and may be wooing smaller oil companies reluctant to compete in full-blown licensing rounds. The next of these, Denmark's 5th round, is scheduled for later this year, and will concentrate on the more mature Central Graben, west of the newly opened acreage.

Also in the eastern sector, Germany recently awarded two offshore exploration licences to RWE-DEA, just south of three blocks it already operates. The new acreage, most recently explored by Arco, covers nine blocks just north of the Friesian Islands. A few gas shows have emerged from the limited drilling here so far. RWE-DEA shot 2D seismic over the acreage this winter, and is thought to be focusing on Rotliegendes gas prospects.

Southern Gas Basin gains momentum

Arthur Andersen highlights several factors behind the rise in southern North Sea investment in its latest UK Upstream Petroleum Database. These include a more optimistic view on gas prices, the introduction of a UK spot market, and availability of extensive infrastructure, facilitating fast, low-cost development.

As an example, the analysts cite Arco's 80-90 bcf Blythe Field in block 48/23, basically dormant since its discovery in 1966. But commercial conditions today are encouraging plans for simultaneous development of this and Arco's Medway and Thames L&N satellites, with first gas possible late 1998.

Conoco, which also held off developments as gas prices plunged, is now proceeding with a new phase of its core Viking gas project. Four separate satellites of the Viking A and E fields, containing 500 bcf in total, are to be produced through two normally unmanned platforms. Gas exports will be coordinated through a subsea tee linked to a 15 km, 16-in. diameter flowline to the Viking B platform complex before heading to Conoco's Theddlethorpe terminal in Lincolnshire. Deviated, horizontal and multilateral completions will keep well numbers down, permitting the use of smaller platforms, and fracturing on the Wx wells should improve productivity.

Fast-track oil through semis

Smedvig has sold its semisubmersible West Royal to Kerr-McGee (UK) and its partners for $54 million. The unit will be converted for floating production on a new field development, assumed to be Janice in block 30/17a. Smedvig will also operate the vessel through the pre-production and operations phases up to September 2001.

Another semisub, Seatankers' Northern Producer (ex-Emerald Producer) has been confirmed as the development medium for Texaco's Galley oil and gas field in UK block 15/23a. It previously produced for MSR on the loss-making Emerald Field. On Galley, it will host full production processing, including water injection, with oil and gas piped to Texaco's Tartan A platform, then onward to the Flotta oil and St Fergus gas terminals.

There are two Upper Jurassic sandstone accumulations on Galley. Semisub Stena Forth has begun drilling of two development wells, both to be equipped with downhole pressure gauges to measure the reservoir's dynamic performance. First production is slated from early 1998, peaking at 43,000 boe/d. The first production phase will last four years, netting 28MM bbl and 40 bcf. Northern Producer is being leased by Texaco, with Atlantic Power awarded a potential 10-year management contract.

Texaco is taking longer to evaluate its heavy oil Mariner Field in block 9/11a. One of three wells drilled on the field last year, a long-reach horizontal, is on extended well test for several months. Assuming the partners like the results, development could be sanctioned late this year. Among the four contractor groupings in the running, ABB's is thought to be offering a Captain-type configuration of a monohull linked to a wellhead platform. Captain finally came onstream for Texaco in March.

Fulmar buoy awaits exit

Shell Expro has another cylindrical structure to dispose of in the North Sea - this time, the 5,000 ton steel single anchor leg mooring buoy (SALM) for the Fulmar export system. The buoy used to anchor a 210,000 dwt floating storage unit, allowing all-weather loading of oil from the Fulmar, Auk, Clyde and Gannet Fields.

In 1994, however, the FSU and SALM were removed for storage in Norwegian waters, with the oil offtake mantle currently assumed by a leased tanker loading system until a new 16 km pipeline link into the Norpipe system takes over. Recently the FSU was sold to Smedvig/Statoil for conversion purposes, and was towed out from Stavanger to the Far East.

The SALM is 85 meters high, with a maximum diameter at the water line of 16 meters. It floats vertically with a draught of 62 meters and a height above water of 23 meters. In air, it comprises 2,600 tons of steel, 2,000 tons of haematite ballast, and 450 tons of treated water ballast, which is located in a sealed compartment at the base. Unlike the Brent Spar, the SALM did not store oil, although two 16-in. oil production lines (since flushed) do run through it. Shell Expro is inviting bids for re-use, recycling or disposal onshore.

Copyright 1997 Oil & Gas Journal. All Rights Reserved.

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