INDEPENDENTS Chrysaor and Faroe Petroleum are each planning critical appraisal wells this summer that could, if successful, lead to two new UK Atlantic Frontier developments – Solan and Freya.
Chrysaor has already booked a rig – the semi-submersible, Byford Dolphin – to drill this summer, with Aberdeen company Senergy in the driving seat project-managing the probe.
Faroe is not as advanced in that a rig has not yet been contracted, but the company’s CEO, Graham Stewart, is optimistic that it will be possible to get a well in this year, helped by the fact that Freya is located in shallow water by west of Shetland standards.
Of the two, Freya is potentially much the larger; this Clair field analogue has a 100million-plus barrels potential, versus 20million or so for Solan. Both discoveries were years ago shelved as non-viable by their respective original operators, and later relinquished.
That said, the company that found Solan and deeper sister Strathmore on block 205/26a, Amerada Hess, tried to find a solution through the UK’s short-lived Satellite Accelerator initiative of the early-2000s.
Chrysaor’s CEO, Phil Kirk, told Energy: “We have acquired 100% of the block which contains the Solan field and we’re looking to drill an appraisal well in July this year, really to firm up volumetrics and reservoir quality with a view to moving rapidly towards development, either as a stand-alone or a potential tie-back to infrastructure in the area.
“We’re drilling with Senergy. We have our own drilling manager and it should be a 35 to 40-day well in summer, assuming good weather. On Solan, there are two discoveries, though a number of wells have been drilled off structure, and another well on the underlying Strathmore field. Compared with Solan, while Strathmore has always been seen as the larger prize, it is a more challenging reservoir and crude qualities are difficult.”
Kirk confirmed that, if appraisal work demonstrates commerciality, Solan could yet become a satellite tie-in to Foinaven/Schiehallion infrastructure.
“We’ve started conversations with BP. They’re a great operator and we’d love to be in a position to be able to tie-back to either. But I think the market’s aware that BP is currently examining the Foinaven/Schiehallion area and working out what options it has, bearing in mind that Schiehallion looks like lasting longer than originally anticipated.
“Questions are being asked as to whether the vessel might move off location for dry-dock refurbishment, or if a new-build might be brought in. It would be nice if Solan was part of those plans. But we’ll just have to see what decisions BP makes; then we can have a further discussion.”
On Faroe Petroleum, the company had hoped to drill Freya in summer 2005.
Three years on and the outfit’s CEO appears more confident that the long hoped for appraisal will go ahead summer 2008.
“I would be disappointed if we’re not drilling in the summer. Everything is pointing in that direction at the moment,” Stewart told Energy.
“The uncertainty in this reservoir is the moveability of fluids, and that’s what this well will test. I can’t say whether it will be horizontal or high angle, the well design has not been finalised.”
“THIS well will, hopefully, confirm our understanding of the geology, and particularly the geometry of this reservoir and the fractures within it. That’s been achieved through fresh seismic and applying new techniques. When it comes to actual production, undoubtedly that will involve horizontal wells.”
Stewart hinted that a deal was imminent with a potential farm-in investor.
“Freya has now attracted serious players that have the capability of financing and working with us to develop the field.”
The field lies 10km north-west of BP-operated Clair on block 206/10, in 140m of water. The 206/10-1 probe was drilled in 1984 by Mobil; a 140m column of oil-bearing sands was encountered, apparently with significant volumes in place. The ratio of gas to oil is thought to be low, which is considered good.
The 2008 appraisal, if it goes ahead, will likely involve a drill stem test. If this proves encouraging, an extended well test seems likely. This is, in essence, what BP did as part of the protracted process of building a commercial case around Clair. It is thought Freya has in-place reserves in the range 100-500million barrels. It is a candidate for stand-alone and Clair tie-in development options.
Faroe Petroleum is a listed company, whereas Chrysaor is private. The latter was set up by Kirk, whose previous company, CH4 Energy, was sold to Venture Production for about £160million in August, 2006.