During the holiday season in 2007, there was no let-up in drilling activity. But what a difference a year makes as, this July, only three wells were spudded – all appraisals. That’s substantially below the count in 2007.
However, with about 30 rig contracts in place for the remainder of 2008, the summer dip in activity is likely to be temporary. To date, in 2008, 45 exploration and appraisal wells – plus 32 sidetracks – have been started.
In more detail, 29 exploration and 16 appraisal “pilot holes” have commenced this year, some 45% and 14%, respectively, higher than the same period in 2007.
The increasing number of “spider-wells” that are being drilled, with some sidetracks designated appraisal and even some as development, is very apparent – 32 sidetracks to date, compared with 23 last year. Oilexco’s Central North Sea appraisal campaigns at Caledonia in block 16/26 and Shelley in Block 22/2b both included legs designated as development.
Of the 174 planned wells currently listed by Hannon Westwood, 81 are considered to have farm-in opportunity. When compared with the first quarter of 2008, when 184 wells offered 70 opportunities, we conclude that there has been little turnover in the third part opportunities as companies drill out joint venture wells or honour previous farm-in deals. The end of the summer break is likely to bring more opportunities and the conclusion of any deals in progress.
Back to the present, and with 13 mobile units currently active on E&A drilling, recent activity has been firmly dominated by appraisal programmes.
In the Central North Sea, Ithaca’s Lower Cretaceous Athena appraisal, well 14/18b-18, was suspended oil, while both IOC’s wells in bock 15/13a, a Hood discovery appraisal and exploration well, brought positive results.
Antrim’s successful 21/28a-10 Fyne appraisal has been followed by a further well on the discovery. Nexen and Lundin are drilling appraisal sidetracks on their respective discoveries: Pink well 20/1-7 (Jurassic) and Torphins well 21/8-4 (Palaeocene).
Nexen is reportedly testing its near Ettrick exploration well, 20/2a-8, on the Jurassic Blackbird prospect. Perenco encountered thin pay in its 21/30-25 Spitfire well and abandoned without testing.
And, at last, after nine months, the final well spudded in 2007 has finished. BG spent 80 days at total depth before abandoning, then sidetracking, Jackdaw appraisal well 30/2a-7.
In the Northern North Sea, only Antrim’s East Causeway 211/23d-18 appraisal provides any interest, and this was abandoned.
West of Shetland, Chrysaor commenced its first ever well. The 205/26a-7 probe is appraising the Upper Jurassic Solan discovery. Chrysaor hopes to prove that the 1991 drilled Hess well 205/26a-4 discovered a viable accumulation
A steady pace of activity continues in the Southern Gas Basin, where E.On commenced appraisal of the Carboniferous Rita accumulation with well 44/22c-12, bringing the tally of currently active wells in that sector to four.
Well Slot is courtesy of UK oil&gas consultancy Hannon Westwood LLC. See www.hannonwestwood.com