By DARA BUTTERFIELD
The discovery of a major new North Sea oilfield – which could produce more than 5,000 barrels of oil a day and which would be worth more than £150 million a year at current prices – has been confirmed by BP.
The new field – which lies some 150 miles due east of Montrose in the central North Sea – has been ‘christened’ Vorlich by BP and ‘Marconi’ by its exploration partner GDF Suez.
The well was drilled by GDF SUEZ E&P UK Ltd as operator, with the Transocean Galaxy II jack-up rig under a joint well agreement between the two licence groups.
Exploration well 30/1f-13AZ encountered hydrocarbons in a Palaeocene sandstone reservoir in block 30/1c (licence P363 operated by BP) and a subsequent side-track into block 30/1f (licence P1588 operated by GDF SUEZ E&P UK Ltd) confirmed the westerly extension of the discovery.
The P1588 licence is owned by GDF SUEZ (50%) and partners RWE DEA (27.78%) and Maersk Oil North Sea Limited (22.22%).
The P363 licence owner is BP Operating Company Ltd (50%) and Total (50.%).
GDF SUEZ is an increasingly significant player in N. Sea oil and gas exploration and production. Since entering the region in 1997, the company has built up a substantial portfolio of assets in the Central and Southern North Sea, and West of Shetland, comprising more than 50 licences, 20 as operator.
The company entered the UK onshore market in October 2013 when acquired a 25% share in 13 licences located in Cheshire and the East Midlands from Dart Energy, which is operator of the licences.
BP has an active exploration and appraisal programme in the North Sea and, along with its co-venturers, is currently embarking on a £10 billion investment programme – 70% of which will be spent in the next five years.
Ruud Zoon, Managing Director, GDF SUEZ, said: “This is an encouraging exploration discovery in a part of the Central North Sea that needs additional volumes of hydrocarbons to open up development options for several stranded discoveries.
“The discovery is our third successful well this year and demonstrates a continuing commitment by GDF SUEZ to an active exploration and appraisal drilling programme in the North Sea.
Trevor Garlick, Regional President, BP North Sea, said: “As BP marks its 50th year in the North Sea and as the industry looks to maximise economic recovery from the basin, increasing exploration activity and finding new ways to collaborate will be critical to realising remaining potential. This discovery is a great example of both.”
An Oil & Gas UK spokesman commented: “At a time when exploration in the North Sea offshore industry is facing severe investment and cost pressures, it is heartening to see two UK explorers demonstrate that there are still significant economic discoveries to be developed within the basin.
“To ensure the pipeline of new developments continue to flow from the North Sea, Oil & Gas UK believes that full implementation of Sir Ian Wood’s recommendations for regulatory reform, and far-sighted changes to the fiscal regime, are needed urgently. The offshore oil and gas industry must also improve its efficiency and reduce its costs as a matter of utmost importance to allow our region to compete in the global marketplace.”
See also: ‘Industry must invest in new technologies to unlock even more N. Sea oil reserves’ – http://goo.gl/PhzVkY
By Professor Mehran Sohrabi
Director of the Centre for Enhanced Oil Recovery
Institute of Petroleum Engineering