Sterling Resources has taken over operatorship of the Sheryl oil discovery in the central North Sea from Oilexco North Sea (ONS), which went into administration in early January.
The Canadian firm was previously operator of Sheryl until it farmed out a stake to ONS while retaining a significant interest.
It is the second discovery in which ONS has had to relinquish operatorship, having seen E.ON Ruhrgas take over the role on Huntington, also in the central North Sea, just a week after it went into administration.
Sterling, which has a 35% interest in Sheryl while ONS continues to have 65% meantime, said the project had been on hold, awaiting capacity in Petro-Canada’s nearby Pict pipeline system, which was expected to be available later this year or early next.
Sheryl was first drilled in 2006 and tested oil at a maximum rate of 1,915 barrels per day (bpd), although independent studies indicated the potential for up to 10,000bpd from a high-angle well with sand control and artificial lift, the company said.
Stewart Gibson, Sterling’s Scots-born and Banchory-based chief executive, said: “Operating Sheryl will enable us to give the discovery the due care and attention which it deserves, including looking at other off-take options.”
Administrators at ONS are continuing their efforts to sell the company and its assets and have received a number of expressions of interest.
Sterling also said it had agreed a farm-out deal with Transocean subsidiary Challenger Minerals under which Challenger may acquire a 10% interest in the northern North Sea Cladhan find drilled by Sterling late last year and where it holds a 39.9% interest.
It said the option to acquire the stake would follow a contribution towards past well costs and the payment of part of Sterling’s costs in addition to its own on a forthcoming sidetrack well.
In addition, Sterling will acquire a 10% interest in the Crosby well, off the north-west of England, to be drilled by Challenger this May.
Mr Gibson said: “The deal introduces us to an opportunity in the established East Irish Sea Basin.”
Oil prices fell yesterday as traders awaited Opec’s meeting this weekend. US crude for April delivery settled 78 cents lower at $46.25 a barrel, while Brent crude in London slid 16 cents to $44.93.