Last month, the UK unit of Lundin Petroleum, partnered by Challenger Minerals and Revus Energy, successfully drilled the UKCS block 21/8 Torphins prospect. The 21/8-4 well penetrated a high-quality Paleocene reservoir sandstones and a sidetrack encountered encouraging signs of hydrocarbons.
While Torphins apparently wasn’t as good as anticipated, nonetheless, taken with the nearby Scotly discovery, Lundin and its partners may some day soon have a commercially viable development on their hands.
However, the Swedish group is best known in the UK for its success in finding new futures for mature assets, in particular the Heather and Thistle fields, both of which have a “high mileage” on their clocks.
It may not be realised, but a few years ago, Lundin exited the North Sea, only to return in 2004 via its acquisition of DNO, a Norwegian company that had a number of UK assets in its portfolio.
Of the duo, Heather is the real survivor; indeed, the field was a prime candidate for decommissioning in the mid-1990s but, perhaps miraculously, survived and, today, the field’s platform is an important hub for Lundin.
Alan Curran, MD of Lundin’s UK unit says Heather itself is only producing 2,000-3,000bpd and is wholly dependent for its ongoing future on the satellite business, of which Broom is a very important part.
Broom itself is producing just less than 20,000 barrels per day of oil from a reserves base estimated at 50-100million barrels. Curran sees a 10 to 15-year future for Heather and, for that matter, Thistle too, even at moderately high oil prices of $70-90 per barrel.
The breakthrough for Heather came in the early-2000s before Curran became involved with Lundin. It proved up Broom (formerly West Heather) as being large enough to put paid to any further thoughts of decommissioning the parent field’s infrastructure.
“Broom has been a great cash generator since and we’ve just drilled another well in the field and brought it onstream,” Curran told Energy.
“It’s currently doing about 10,000bpd.
“Broom is the revenue stream that keeps Heather alive and gives us the ability to pursue additional opportunities in the Heather reservoir. It’s very complex; we shot 3D seismic a year or so back, we’ve interpreted it, we’re updating the reservoir model and we’re planning to drill further infill wells.”
Meanwhile, upgrade work is ongoing to ensure safe, effective operations during the drilling campaign. Equipment replacements have included the platform’s main crane to ensure it can handle the demands that the planned drilling will impose.
Besides infill wells, Curran told Energy that the Triassic reservoir that sits below the main Heather reservoir will also be checked out.
“There are hydrocarbons in the Triassic,” he said.
“The challenge is the quality of the reservoir and whether it can be developed economically.
“The well, to be drilled in 2009-10 will be challenging. It will be designed to prove up the Triassic resource. The reservoir is complex, will require several wells; also hydraulic fraccing (fracturing) as well. A combination of high-angle wells and fraccing will probably do the trick.”
Does this mean that there are Triassic opportunities associated with Broom?
“Not Triassic as such. We’re developing the core, but there are flank opportunities in Broom that are not as straightforward as the core. They feature in our two to three-year horizon as well.
“There’s the North Terrace, which is a more complex geological compartment. It has one well; the 3D seismic that has been shot is giving some more insight into the greater Broom area and we’ll hopefully drill another well or two on the north flank.”
It may be possible to access parts of Broom via extended-reach drilling from the Heather platform; otherwise a mobile unit will be used.
“While we’re looking at the possibility of clipping the perimeter of Broom with Heather-drilled wells, they will be very, very long and probably the most economic way of doing it would be to get a mobile, even at today’s high rig rates,” said Curran.
“There are some potential satellites in the Greater Heather area – SW Heather is one. Hopefully, we’ll be able to drill a well on that in the next year, prove it up and tie it back to Heather. There are several other exploration opportunities in the wider Quadrant 3 where we have equity. We picked them up in recent licensing rounds and it will be our expectation that we’ll have an exploration well there in 2009-10.
“There’s a whole Paleocene play out there that we’re pursuing in the East Shetland Basin. It’s a new concept and there is what I would call reasonable prospectivity out there. We think it will result in a firm exploration well in the next couple of years.”