Eleven E&A wells are currently active on the UKCS utilising 10 mobile rigs and one platform, with seven new spuds reported over the last month, bringing this year’s tally to 31 wells and 20 sidetracks.
In the Central North Sea, Petro-Canada began drilling the Lower Cretaceous Surprise appraisal well, 12/25-3, having abandoned Leopard 12/25-2 after 34 days. The Nutmeg prospect, also on the block, has consequently dropped to third spot for drilling.
Fairfield rapidly drilled and abandoned the Palaeocene Northeast Maureen appraisal well during the month, well 16/29a-17 abandoning after 17 days without any commercial oil encountered. Nippon’s Bowmore appraisal well, 15/24a-9, already around three weeks at TD, was expected to start logging in early-August.
Nexen’s programme on prolific block 20/1 continues, with operations approaching the 100-day mark on the Upper Jurassic Hobby South appraisal well, 20/1-10, currently in a second sidetrack. Talisman’s sidetrack appraisal leg, 22/22a-7Z, on the Jurassic Shaw discovery (flowed 4,800 barrels per day) also continues.
West of Shetland shows the next highest level of activity following the spud of Hurricane’s Lancaster appraisal well, 205/21a-4, targeting fractured basement, the Byford Dolphin previously having suspended operations for Chrysaor on Solan appraisal 205/26a-8 after 84 days, including two sidetracks.
DONG’s Palaeocene Glenlivet exploration well, 214/30a-2, has spudded after the Transocean Rather moved off BP Foinaven duties. Shell completed a very rapid second attempt on the South Uist prospect, well 214/21a-2 suspending after just 42 days prior to the rig returning to the Norwegian sector.
Meanwhile, operations continue on Chevron’s Palaeocene Rosebank appraisal well, 213/27-4, which is currently in sidetrack, before the Stena Carron drillship moves to drill OMV’s Tornado prospect in block 204/13a this month.
Total remains the sole operator in the Northern North Sea, kicking off Alwyn area exploration well 3/9a-N52 from the North Alwyn platform and spudding 3/14d-18 on the Balvenie prospect using the Sedco 714 following testing of its Kessog accumulation on CNS block 30/1c and perhaps satisfying the terms of the BP farmout.
Probable targets in the two new NNS wells are Jurassic and/or Triassic sands.
In the Southern North Sea, Venture is drilling well 48/10a-15, an appraisal infill on the Permian Rotliegendes Annabel East structure, with the Noble Julie Robertson, which previously suspended the probably sub-commercial Andrea Discovery well, 48/15b-10, at the end of July.
Venture’s operations are reportedly completed for the time being in the East Irish Sea, where its Triassic 110/3b-6A Whitbeck discovery, which was not flow tested but encountered a 120ft (36.6m) gross gas column, has been suspended for potential future use in production.
The Ensco 92 stays in the basin and next drills a Lennox development well for BHP before continuing its busy E&A schedule, including wells for Centrica, which appears to have succeeded in its acquisition of Venture.
Excluding Total’s platform exploration well in the NNS, the UK sector has seen a net gain of one mobile unit over the last month, the Leiv Eiriksson moving back to Norway while the Sedco 704 and Transocean Rather have come from UK Osprey and Foinaven development drilling, respectively.
With the completion of operations at Northeast Maureen, some doubt remains whether the Sedco 704 will mobilise as expected for appraisal drilling in block 15/27a for Endeavour.
The relative surge of activity seen in July and continuing through August suggests that 2009 drilling levels will certainly exceed the total for 2003, when 34 wells commenced.
Hannon Westwood’s pool of 193 planned wells currently indicates that anywhere between 10 and 20 wells may spud before year-end, and a midpoint would ensure a matching of 2004 levels, when 47 wells were drilled.
Simon Robertshaw’s column is courtesy of North Sea drilling analysts Hannon Westwood LLP