ONS 2018: Wintershall pursuing more gas in the Norwegian Sea

Wintershall plans to spend NKr2 billion ($240 million) on exploration and development in the Norwegian sector in the 2017-20 period, according to a presentation at ONS.

Offshore staff

STAVANGER, NorwayWintershall plans to spend NKr2 billion ($240 million) on exploration and development in the Norwegian sector in the 2017-20 period, according to a presentation at ONS.

Martin Bachmann, executive board member for E&P in Europe and the Middle East, said the company was about to spud the fourth of five exploration wells this year, with a further five lined up for 2019.

The company has been making discoveries, he pointed out, adding that with rig rates still relatively low, it made sense to use available rig slots.

Earlier this year Wintershall proved around 500 bcf with a well on the deepwater Balderbraa prospect in the Norwegian Sea, 120 km (75 mi) from theAasta Hansteen field development where it is a partner to Equinor.

Later this year it will drill theMarisko structure 60 km (37 mi) to the north of and in the same subsurface play as Aasta Hansteen (which is due onstream before year-end), targeting 1 tcf-plus.

A success here could add momentum to plans for a new area-wide gas development, also taking in the currently stranded Asterix gas discovery. Equinor is one of various operators working with Wintershall on feasibility studies.

Otherwise, the company is progressing its $1.1-billion North SeaNova field subsea tieback to Neptune Energy’s Gjøa field semisubmersible platform, which will be powered by electricity from the Norwegian mainland.

The aim is to bring this field onstream by 2021, but Wintershall has opened a competition to see if it is possible to do even better than its earlierMaria subsea development in the Norwegian Sea, which started production a year ahead of the original schedule.

“To this end, our model of working with a team of suppliers is key,” Bachmann said.

The Brage field complex in the North Sea is nearing its 25th anniversary and is currently licensed to remain producing through 2030. When Wintershall acquired the field from Statoil a few years ago, it was perceived to be in the tail-end phase, but the company has successfully implemented various measures to maximize the reserves, Bachman said.

This summer the field complex underwent its biggest maintenance program ever, with new investment in the fabric of the platform to ensure extended life. Around half of the current production is from new wells that Wintershall has drilled since taking over the facility, Bachman stressed.

Wintershall CEO Mario Mehren said he hoped the company’smerger with Hamburg-based DEA would be completed soon, creating one of Europe’s largest independents with production of 600,000 boe/d, building later to 800,000 boe/d.

The combined entity would also hold more than 100 licenses offshore Norway, with further plans to invest in oil and gas in the sector. “Europe needs lots of gas - by 2030, it will have to import more, and that needs to come from somewhere,” Mehren said. “In this regard, it will be good for us to have reliable partners in Norway, as well as Russia.”

Elsewhere, Wintershall remains active in the other main North Sea provinces. Wintershall Noordzee’s E18-A gas field in the Dutch sector is nearing the end of field life, and the company is considering re-using the platform’s topsides for a future development of the 2015 Sillimanite gas discovery in UK waters, north of the producing Wingate complex.


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