Dutch shelf sees development revival

The yellow framework of the Pre Assembled Unit (PAU) was installed in between the two sections of the K14-FA-1 gas production platform. (Photo courtesy NAM) [16,565 bytes] Elf Petroland's K5-EN/C gas production platform was installed by the Stanislav Yudin crane vessel in June. (Photo courtesy Elf Petroland) [25,816 bytes]

After slow year, exploration and
platform installations resume

Feico Houweling
Contributing Editor
The future for the Dutch offshore oil and gas sector seemed gloomy during the past year when not a single new production platform was installed on the Dutch continental shelf. The rising number of exploration wells gave grounds for some hope however. It looks now as if The Netherlands may expect a temporary revival of the former active days.

Early this year, some operators began installing new platforms on the Dutch shelf again. Clyde Petroleum was the first. The operator is now in the process of completing a series of ultra-light-weight gas production platforms which are being installed in the blocks P2 and P6. The operator invested DFL205 million in the construction of three re-installable jackup production platforms using innovative techniques such as suction piles instead of conventional piling. Production from the new fields will start this summer.

It is expected that Clyde will soon announce new development projects in Block P2. Of more significance, however, may be the exploration well P6-B4 started from Clyde's P6-B platform. It is the operator's intention to re-evaluate the economics of a gas field below the producing P6-A Field. The lower field could contain more than 30 bcm of natural gas.

Elf Petroland installed the K5-EN/C gas production platform in June. A green light has been given for the development of the K4a-D Field. It will be developed by a subsea well

tied back to Lasmo's Markham platform. Production start is scheduled for fall of 1997. At that time, Elf will also complete its compression project on K6 which is expected to boost gas production from the K6 fields by 8 bcm.

The operator is also considering development options for the gas reservoir discovered with well K1-3 in the immediate vicinity of the Markham platform. Analysts Wood Mackenzie estimate the total reserves at some 13 bcm.

Fast track

NAM is making progress with the development of the east-of-Nogat project in block L9. Construction of the wellhead and production platforms started at Heerema Fabrication Group's Grootint yard earlier this year and installation is scheduled for the second quarter of next year with production startup in June 1998. NAM estimates the total recoverable reserves of the L9 block at 20 bcm.

A recently discovered gas reservoir in Block K7 will be the next candidate for a fast track development by NAM. The development procedure will be comparable to K14-FB-1, a gas pro duction platform which was installed in April less then ten months after the engineering and fabrication contract had been signed.

The new reservoir was discovered in March 1996 with well K7-9. An appraisal well drilled early this year, K7-10, is thought to have been successful. According to Wood Mackenzie, the reservoir could contain some 10.5 bcm of natural gas. This is more than twice as much as the K7-FA gas field some 10 km to the north which contains an estimated 4.5 bcm of natural gas. For NAM, the result of the latest wells is the more encouraging since another prospect in the area, K7-FB, proved to be uncommercial and the exploration well K7-8 in the northern part of the block was completed as a dry hole in 1980.

The same project team which realized the K14-FB-1 development was put by NAM on the new K7 development. The team works according to the "cut-and-paste" principle, which is primarily based on selecting elements from comparable developments and assembling them into a new platform for the K7 gas field. "We expect the new platform to be in place within a year from now", a member of the project team stated in June. The new platform is expected to become a satellite wellhead platform tied back to the existing K7-FA-1 gas production platform.

The K14-FB-1 project consisted of three parts: the satellite platform, an extension of the gas treatment facilities on the main production platform K14-FA-1, and two gas pipelines. The new satellite platform consists of a 400-ton, 6-slot wellhead jacket and 500-ton topsides. The helideck measures 16 meters by 16 meters, slightly smaller than on other platforms. The installations will usually operate unmanned but the platform is equipped with accommodation for six people and a free fall lifeboat.

More remarkable was the extension NAM made to its K14-FA-1 gas production platform by placing a pre assembled unit (PAU) between the production and the wellhead facilities. The 185-ton unit contains extra separation facilities as well as an corrosion inhibition injector. The K14-FB gas field was connected with the main production platform through a 10-km, 10-in. pipeline. From K14-FA-1, a new 16-km, 16-in. pipeline was installed for the export of low caloric gas to K15-FB-1. The new platform has been designed for a daily gas production of 2.25 MMcm. Production start is scheduled for October.

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