Oil explorer Xcite Energy said today it was changing the development plans for its North Sea Bentley field.
But the Aberdeen firm insisted it was still on track for first oil in 2012, saying it had altered its first phase plans for Bentley – about 100 miles east of Shetland – to “provide a more financially efficient outcome”.
It added the changes were made in response to feedback from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), which is currently considering Xcite’s field development plan.
The changed plans will see an initial phase 1A of production from 2012, with one motherbore well and a shuttle tanker followed by a phase 1B, with a minimal facilities platform, four production wells and multilateral production wells from 2013.
This would be linked to a floating production and storage vessel before being exported using a shuttle tanker.
In 2016, as previously planned, phase 2 would see a further permanent production platform, with full processing, drilling and accommodation facilities to be installed for the rest of the life of the field.
Xcite said it had the financial resources to start the first phase of development and that DECC approval was thought to be imminent.
It added: “The company continues to make good progress with respect to securing additional sources of funding, including project finance from commercial lending banks.
“Whilst adopting this more financially efficient approach to Phase 1, the company intends to pre-invest substantially in phase 1B and phase 2, with the objective of lowering the unit cost of oil produced and, thus, maximising the commercial industry value of the Bentley asset in advance of Phase 1B.”
Xcite has already contracted and pre-paid for use of the Rowan Norway jack-up rig, which has been undergoing work in Dundee.
Analysts responded cooly to the announcement. Oriel Securities said timing and costs for phase 1B would be difficult to forecast “given the tight floating production vessel market”.