The development, in block 22/25a, 230 km (143 mi) offshore Aberdeen, will deliver 100,000 boe/d at peak and should account for around 5% of the UK’s gas needs.
According to Arnaud Breuillac, Total’s president Exploration & Production, capex savings were more than $500 million, due mainly to the efforts of the construction and drilling operations project teams.
The field is in the east Central Graben area, close to the HP/HT Elgin-Franklin gas-condensate fields which the company also operates, and this generates synergies, Breuillac said.
Maersk Oil discovered Culzean, which has estimated resources of 250-300 MMboe, in 2008.
Development involved drilling six wells, construction of three bridge-linked platforms and a floating storage and offloading (FSO) unit.
Total highlighted the application of new digital technologies such as ‘smart rooms’ that improve efficiency during operations and create a safer working environment.
Other partners are BP and JX Nippon.
Wood Mackenzie North Sea upstream team research associate Glenn Morrall said the cost savings reported by Total point to a final investment cost of around $4.5 billion.
He added: “Culzean is the third UK project to start production this year, but the biggest by a long way. It shows that there is still appetite for big developments in UK waters.
“There is some risk, though. Culzean gas is HP/HT, which makes it more challenging to operate successfully. However, Total brings a wealth of experience in operating HP/HT fields, for example at the nearby Elgin-Franklin fields.”
The company is now the UK’s biggest gas producer, providing 18% of daily consumption, and has consolidated its position following exploration successes as operator at Glendronach west of Shetland and as a partner to Nexen at Glengorm in the UK central North Sea.