Shell is pushing ahead with a North Sea development it put a questionmark over following the UK Government’s unexpected tax grab last year.
The UK-Dutch energy giant has submitted an environmental statement to the Department of Energy and Climate Change for its central North Sea Fram development.
A Shell spokeswoman said yesterday: “We have yet to take final investment decision on the project.”
She said work had still been progressing on the development, which it operates and owns jointly with Esso, about 137 miles south-east of Aberdeen. The future of Fram, described as one of the largest field developments planned in the North Sea, was said to be unclear last year, after the increase in supplementary tax on North Sea oil and gas producers announced in the Budget.
It was one of several fields which operators cast doubt over following the tax grab; including Statoil’s Mariner and Bressay development, which is now proceeding.
The industry is now hoping that concessions, in the form of some new and extensions to field allowances plus a resolution of issues on decommissioning tax relief uncertainty, will be made in the Budget, to be announced on Wednesday, March 21.
Shell submitted a draft field-development plan (FDP) last year for Fram – thought to hold up to 300million barrels of oil – and is due to submit a final FDP after scrutiny of its environmental statement.
The current plans would see drilling start in the third quarter of this year, subsea infrastructure installed in 2013 and 2014 and first oil in the first quarter of 2014 using a floating production vessel with oil transported by shuttle tanker and gas sent via the Fulmar pipeline to the St Fergus terminal.