With front-end engineering and design (FEED) just started or about to get under way, Statoil is mulling Aberdeen as the centre to run itsMariner/Bressay heavy oil projects in the UK North Sea.
Aker Solutions is already carrying out conceptual engineering work at Mariner, and WorleyParsons is similarly engaged with Bressay.
Both field developments should move into the full project development phase next year, with first commercial production achieved from Mariner in 2015, with Bressay some six months behind.
Supply chain speculation in Aberdeen is that Statoil will set up offices in the city. That Aker has a large presence at Dyce could be an important factor in the oil company’s decision-making process.
With speculation building that Statoil might also be interested in acquiring the Bentley field that was recently and successfully tested by the small Canadian-UK independent Xcite, and which is said to be on course for first commercial production late this year, a move into the Granite City appears all the more logical.
Further, it would come as no surprise if there was a discrete expectation on the part of the UK government that the semi-state-owned Norwegian company did the decent thing by going local.
Energy contacted Statoil and drew the following response: “The final decision on concept selection for Mariner is expected to be done during the spring. Bressay is, as planned, later than Mariner.
“It is still too early to give deadlines for concept selection for Bressay. Given positive investment decisions later in the process, Aberdeen is a possible office location for the operations.”
With a capex requirement of $10.7billion (£6.6billion), these are major developments that will require large platforms.
None of these can be built in the UK because yards that could have handled the work no longer exist, or are currently incapable of handling fabrication work of the scale required.
This means platform jackets are highly likely to go to the Aker Verdal yard in Norway and the topsides to the Far East, so making a laughing stock out of the British heavy engineering capability.
However, should FMC, for example, secure the wellheads contract for either or both projects, then this could deliver a huge amount of business to that company’s manufacturing plant in Dunfermline, Fife.
The Mariner concept floated by Statoil in an internal presentation dating from December last year involves a twin-rig jacket process, utilities and drilling platform; floating storage unit for produce oil that could be bridge-linked to the PDQ; 300,000 barrels per day liquids capacity (injected water), and 80,000 barrels per day oil production capacity.
The jacket would have 60 well-slots, though Statoil envisages up to 100 production and water injection wells for this field in order to sweep the field of its resource.
Statoil says that the Bressay production facilities could easily become a “copy paste” – more or less the same but with 40 well slots and a slightly smaller production capability.
Wells for both fields will be of long-reach horizontal and multi-lateral configuration, and electric submersible pumps will be essential to successfully produce the 11-14API heavy crude.
Statoil is confident it can produce both fields successfully.
It was an appraisal drilled in H2 2008 on Bressay that demonstrated the reservoir’s ability to flow.
For the Bressay well test, the BW Carmen vessel was chartered for use as an anti-pollution testing vessel, enabling the oil to be collected rather than flared.
A total of 2,000 tonnes of reservoir fluid was produced, most of which was sold to market, while some was retained for assay and flow experiments.
Statoil, which acquired majority interests in the fields off Chevron in late 2007, built its stake further in September last year by buying 20.67% of Nautical Petroleum’s interest in UK offshore licence P335, containing the Mariner field, leaving Nautical with a total of 6%.
Today, Statoil holds 65.1% of Mariner and 81.625% of Bressay.
Aggregate in-place reserves are some 3.5billion barrels, of which it is said around 600million barrels should be recoverable.
Output could very well turn out to be much higher, but that depends on how the reservoirs of these sister fields behave.