ONE of the big challenges faced by Lundin with both Heather and Thistle is platform integrity. A lot of cash has been spent in this direction in a bid to ensure they remain both safe and efficient long-term.
“Across Heather and Thistle we’ve spent £100million on facilities capex alone in the last two to three years,” said Lundin’s UK MD Alan Curran.
“Much of it is integrity-related … lots of secondary steel being replaced.
“We’ve spent £40million on drilling facilities, the bulk of it being spent on Thistle, and we’ll effectively have a new rig by the end of the year, and this is being done by KCA Deutag.”
Referring to Thistle, Curran says it is in a heck of a lot better state than it was two years ago.
“We had our 15 minutes of fame in November last year when we had a turbine fire. That ultimately shut down the platform for about 50 days.
“I took tremendous strength from the way in which the team responded to that incident.
“It proved to me that the team on and offshore was capable of handling what was a dangerous situation.
“They handled it well, the safety systems worked and it was nowhere near as catastrophic as Sky TV suggested at the time. In fact, it was relatively tame and became a media story on a Sunday for all sorts of reasons.
“But we had to work damned hard to put things right just in terms of management of all stakeholders … from unions to HSE to Government to … right across the spectrum.
“We got the platform online again late-January.
“A rambling answer, I know, but the key point is that the facilities are in much better shape than they were two or three years ago. Lundin committed to redevelopment of Thistle in May, 2006, around the time that I was recruited.
“I’ve been here two years and I didn’t come here just to refurbish Thistle. It was to get out and drill and to go out beyond Heather and Thistle as well.
“We had a very active exploration programme last year and we’re going to continue to explore. Strategically, we want to grow the business. We have the capability to extract value from these older assets. But we also have the capability to do the new stuff.”
Four wells were drilled last year and Torphins so far this year. A pre-development team has been pulled together to examine the viability of Scolty – one of last year’s targets – and Torphins may help reinforce the economic case.
Since starting with Lundin, what Curran has been keen to get established is the ability for the UK unit to drill its own wells.
“That’s something we’re working on very hard. We’ve recruited some very good-quality people and strengthened the drilling group significantly over the last year. It’s our intention that, by 2009, we will have the choice as to whether we drill wells ourselves or whether we use a well management contractor.”