Latest generation ship begins drilling at exploration well

Chevron North Sea said yesterday that drilling operations had begun on an exploration well west of Shetland.

Latest-generation drillship the Stena Carron is carrying out the work on the Rosebank North/Lochnagar North prospect.

It is the first of a three-well programme in the Greater Rosebank Area using the Carron and its results are expected in the first quarter of next year.

The new well is in around 3,800ft of water and is to be drilled to a proposed total depth of 12,565ft. It is the first well drilled using the Carron, which recently entered UK waters following its construction at Samsung’s shipyard in Geoje, South Korea.

Chevron initially agreed on a three-year contract and extension options with Stena Drilling for the Carron, but that has been increased to five years with options. The value of the deal has not been disclosed.

Chevron plans to use the Carron to support its exploration, appraisal, and development drilling programmes west of Shetland, the North Sea and the Faroe Islands.

Chevron Upstream Europe managing director Rick Cohagan said: “This latest generation drillship is able to operate in harsh environments such as West of Shetland, the Norwegian and Barents Sea. Only a handful of vessels in the world can undertake year-round work in extreme winter conditions.”

Chevron and its partners are investing around £160million in the Greater Rosebank Area appraisal programme which started in October 2006.

Equity holders in Greater Rosebank Area: Chevron North Sea (40%); Statoil (UK) (30%); OMV (UK) (20%); and DONG Exploration & Production (UK) (10%).

Chevron and its partners already have the Rosebank/Lochnagar finds in the area, with speculation suggesting they could have more than 500million barrels of oil equivalent in place.

Chevron is one of the companies participating in the West of Shetland Task Force that is looking at possible solutions to unlock the potential of this largely undeveloped area of the UK continental shelf.

It has been working with its co-venturers, industry and government in the taskforce with the aim of identifying a technically and economically viable regional infrastructure solution. Third party interest in a possible integrated gas export scheme is being gauged.