The first quarter of 2008 saw a doubling of E & A (exploration and appraisal) drilling levels compared with the same period for 2007, with 20 wells started and nine sidetrack legs initiated.
BG’s Jackdaw and Conoco-Phillips Jasmine area appraisals continue from 2007, contributing to 13 mobile rigs active on five exploration and eight appraisal wells.
However, the strong start to the year in exploration is being overtaken by a higher level of appraisal work, the CNS (Central North Sea) remaining the most active sector with seven wells drilling. Three wells are under way in the SGB (Southern Gas Basin), two in the NNS (Northern North Sea) and one West of Shetland.
Hess’s 204/25a-8 Amos prospect West of Shetland looks like a discovery, given the recent initiation of an appraisal sidetrack. Likewise, Maersk’s 30/14-4 Cawdor Prospect in the CNS has recently kicked-off an appraisal sidetrack.
New starts include Venture’s Barbarossa gas appraisal 47/9c-11; Ithaca’s Athena appraisal 14/18b-17; Antrim’s Fyne & Dandy appraisal 21/28a-9; Oilexco’s Moth exploration 23/21-6; Dana’s Rinnes exploration 210/24a-11, and most recently, EnCore’s Cobra appraisal 48/2c-4.
OMV’s Meteor appraisal 9/18a-35 appears to have moved the Tertiary oil accumulation towards development with first production in 2010. OMV farmed-up its interest from 3.17% to 44.37%.
Talisman’s third appraisal sidetrack 22/17-3X on the western flank of the Cayley discovery was suspended on March 9 after 73 days. The 40million barrels oil equivalent potentially commercial development may be tied back to the Montrose platform. The company has identified similar nearby prospects.
Other wells completed include Ithaca’s 11/29-1 Manuel, which encountered poor-quality, oil-saturated Jurassic sands; Bow Valley’s 16/27a-8 dry Tertiary well, although farm-inee GdF may be more optimistic for remaining deeper prospectivity on the block, and Tullow’s 48/30a-19 Doris exploration well, in the Rotliegendes Hewett field area, which was abandoned dry after 23 days. Hewett is being considered for future natural-gas or carbon-dioxide storage.
Currently “tight-holed” is BG’s 23/21-5 Toad exploration well, which was “completed” after 32 days, including 11 days at total depth, while Oilexco is operating the Moth prospect farm-in well, 23/21-6, close by. Shell’s long-running North Pierce 23/22a-5 appraisal was completed without comment after 130 days, including 52 days on the third sidetrack, 23/22a-5X, close to the south-east of the ongoing activity in Lomond block 23/21. Maersk’s 30/1d-10Z Ockley remains tight-holed but, as mentioned, Maersk’s 30/14-Cawdor prospect to the south may be positive. Safety issues at Janice field have delayed the start-up of Affleck, with 30/14 Flyndre and, possibly, Cawdor pending.
More than 20 wells are indicated for a potential Q2r spud, including exploratory drilling with Nautical’s 8/25a Selkie; BP’s 16/23 Rinnes; Nexen’s 20/2a Blackbird; Maersk’s 22/25a HP/HT Culzean, and Oilexco’s 28/9 Catcher. In the gas basin, Bridge may drill 47/20a Aster, though this is subject to the outcome of the current Durango appraisal.
The Hannon Westwood planned well pool through to 2010 remains firm, with about 190 wells, more than two-thirds of which are exploratory and the remainder appraisal. Nearly 40% of the planned wells appear to offer an opportunity for third-party investment.
Well Slot is courtesy of UK oil&gas consultancy Hannon Westwood LLP. Website: www.hannonwestwood.com