The boss of North Sea operator Sterling Resources said yesterday he was hopeful about the potential of the Cladhan prospect amid speculation it could contain between 100million and 200million barrels of oil.
Chief executive Mike Azancot would not give any projections, saying it was too early for that, but confirmed that drilling results from a sidetrack well on Cladhan had exceeded the Canadian firm’s expectations.
Sterling hopes to know more after drill stem testing (DST) – often the key to determining whether a well has found a commercial hydrocarbon reservoir – next week.
Mr Azancot said: “We are confident that results from the imminent DST operations will confirm commerciality of the Cladhan field.”
Sterling had previously flagged up recoverable known reserves of 30million barrels of oil plus prospective recoverable resources of 60million barrels from undiscovered deposits.
Reports emerged at the weekend that Cladhan was poised to become the third significant UK North Sea oil discovery in as many months.
In June, EnCore and Wintershall were among the partners celebrating a potential 300million-barrel find in the Catcher area in the central North Sea.
Premier Oil – another partner in Catcher – followed this up a month later, saying it estimated recoverable reserves of 60-100million barrels for the area drilled to date. It added that Catcher also had significant untested potential.
Last Thursday, Wintershall – the oil division of German chemical company BASF – announced a discovery estimated at 60-100million barrels of oil in place on the Blakeney prospect.
If the Cladhan find is as large as industry insiders have speculated, it would mean three recent discoveries potentially totalling up to 600million barrels of oil in place. This is against a trend of declining discoveries in the UK North Sea.
Rhodri Thomas, an oil and gas analyst at Wood Mackenzie in Edinburgh, said: “These are promising developments, when just a few years ago exploration in the area was seen as offering only marginal returns.”
Catcher was the biggest oil find since Buzzard in 2001, from which Nexen later announced expected recoverable reserves of 550million barrels. More good news for the UK offshore sector was delivered in July, when Endeavour Energy said reserve estimates for the Cygnus gas field in the southern North Sea were as high as 200million barrels of oil equivalent.