THE increase in UK E & A (exploration and appraisal) activity continues; 32 well starts so far in 2008, and 18 sidetracks. Of these, 22 are exploratory and 10 appraisal. This represents an increase of 85% over the same period in 2007; 63% increase for exploration and 150% for appraisal. Fifteen rigs are currently active, and May starts include Valiant’s 9/22-3 (Globe/Roebuck), IOC’s 15/13a-9 (Hood), Oilexco’s 16/21b-34 (Delta), Nexen’s 19/4-2 (Full Moon), Maersk’s 22/25a-9 (Culzean) and RWE’s 49/2a-6 (Topaz). BG’s Jackdaw 30/2a-7 and ConocoPhillips’ Jasmine/North Terrace 30/6-7 appraisals are now more than seven months into their respective programmes, the last named on its third sidetrack.
Hannon Westwood’s database carries more than 180 planned wells. Thirty planned wells in 2008 have rigs contracted. Rig numbers remain constant, with Leiv Eiriksson departing to Ireland, balanced by Noble Al White arriving from The Netherlands.
The recent UKCS 25th Round deadline reminds us that only one firm well out of 17 committed in the 24th Round has been drilled to date, that being Oilexco’s 22/13b-7,7Z. There is the potential for a further 30 wells on 24th Round acreage, including contingent wells and Promote licences. The large number of blocks offered in the 25th Round will add to this pressure.
There is positive news. In the CNS, BP has a Palaeocene oil discovery with 16/23-7 (Kinnoull) and with tie-back potential to the Andrew field. Antrim has retained its 21/28a-9, 9Z, 9Y Fyne appraisal for use as a future producer. All legs encountered significant oil columns in the Eocene, and a test flowed 3,360bpd before mechanical problems set in. Further appraisal is imminent. The result of Maersk’s 30/14-4Z Cawdor appraisal sidetrack remains unknown.
In the Northern North Sea, Dana has made oil discoveries in the Brent sand on the West and East Rinnes prospects with 210/24a-11 and 11Z. An excellent quality reservoir flowed up to 7,800bopd in one of the wells, with similar reservoir in the untested well. Dana is likely to tie these back to its Hudson field, along with the Melville discovery. In the Southern North Sea, Venture is sidetracking its 47/9c-11 Barbarossa appraisal to test the deliverability of the gas-bearing Rotliegendes reservoir. If successful, it is likely to be jointly developed with Venture’s Channon discovery.
EnCore suspended Cobra appraisal 48/2c-5, its first operated well, after confirming a 350ft of column and significant in-place gas in the Rotliegendes. Work is now needed to establish how to increase the unstimulated flow rate of just 1.1 mmscfd to commercial rates.
West of Shetland, Hess has completed the appraisal sidetrack, 204/25a-8Y, on its Schiehallion attic oil prospect, Amos, without comment, as has Shell with South Uist well 214/21a-1.
Salient reminders of the risk on exploration and appraisal drilling are Nautical’s 8/25a-1 Selkie dry hole and Ithaca’s Athena appraisal 14/18b-17 which, although failing to find commercial hydrocarbons, will be retained for development. CNR’s Murchison platform 211/19a-M78 well on the Jurassic Anning prospect is dry, but has been sidetracked as a development infill well.
Wellslot is courtesy of UK oil&gas consultancy Hannon Westwood LLP. URL: www.hannonwestwood.com