Five mobile units are currently on active E&A drilling duties; two exploration wells including a sidetrack and three appraisal wells also including a sidetrack.
No well spuds or sidetracks were initiated last month and four are carry-overs, having been started last year.
Just two well spuds are noted so far this year – both appraisals – Premier well 21/28a-11 on East Fyne and GDF Suez well 30/13b-10 on Jacqui. The longest running operation is that of BG well 30/2a-8Z.
Once again, the weather seems to have contributed significantly to a lack of new action in the sector.
Twentyfour development/production wells are being drilled by 14 mobile and 10 platform rigs in 21 fields, including batch drilling on Apache’s Bacchus (22/6c) and EnQuest’s Alma field redevelopment (having been previously incarnated as Argyll and then the ill-fated-Ardmore project) on block 30/24c, both in the Central North Sea.
Development drilling in the Southern North Sea has ramped up and operations are ongoing in four fields; Wintershall’s Wingate, Tullow’s Ketch, Centrica’s Ensign and in RWE’s tight gas sand Clipper South fields.
A further challenging reservoir possibly soon to see the development drillbit is Xcite’s ultra-heavy Bentley oil field, The company is to utilise the Rowan Norway jack-up to validate the accumulation’s reserves model with an extended well test.
West of Shetland, Chevron continues operations with well 213/28-1 on the Tertiary Aberlour prospect in 1,097m (3,600ft) of water.
No change is noted in the Northern North Sea where the Sedco 714 sem-isubmersible continues operations on Total’s Middle Jurassic well 3/14a-19Z, the Ardbeg prospect sidetrack, and Awilco’s WilHunter on MPX’s well 3/3b-13, appraising the Middle Jurassic Orlando discovery and yet again delayed for much of February by a mix of technical issues and poor weather conditions.
Two wells are currently active in the Central North Sea; BG’s long-running and sidetracked Jackdaw appraisal, recently confirmed as successful, well 30/2a-8Z (Rowan Gorilla 6) and the GDF Suez-operated well 30/13b-10 (Galaxy 2) appraising the Upper Jurassic Jacqui discovery.
Premier abandoned (East) Fyne appraisal well 21/28a-11 (Sedco 704) having encountered gas and oil pay in the Tay sands, although the oil-bearing reservoir section was thinner than expected. The rig has now moved to drill Premier’s well 15/24c-10 on the Palaeocene Bluebell prospect.
Maersk’s Jurassic/Triassic Culzean appraisal, well 22/25a-11 (Ensco 101), was abandoned mid-month after 171 days, is thought to be successful but is as yet unconfirmed. The rig is next destined for appraisal drilling on the Ockley discovery on Maersk’s block 30/1d.
No E&A drilling is ongoing in the Southern North Sea. Wintershall’s successful Wingate field appraisal, well 44/24b-A2Z (Ensco 80), was plugged back in early February and sidetracked as development leg well 44/24b-A2Y.
The three E&A spuds in the UK sector so far this year is near half the level recorded in the same period in 2011 when combined E&A spuds for the full year turned out to be the lowest since 1999.
Already across the maritime boundary in the Norwegian sector, seven wells have spudded so far this year and five are exploratory.
With a number of long-running wells in the UK having finished or nearing completion, thereby freeing up rigs and with the possibility of improved sea states around the corner (is the weather really worse than in Norway?) March 2012 can only look better . . . can’t it? Watch this space.
The oil price is also healthy, providing impetus for future planning – providing it doesn’t get out of control. Remember 2008?
Simon Robertshaw’s column is courtesy of analysts Hannon Westwood.