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‘Complex issues’ holding up Columbus

‘Complex issues’ holding up Columbus
Serica Energy said yesterday that first production from the Columbus field in the central North Sea had been delayed until the first half of 2015.

Serica Energy said yesterday that first production from the Columbus field in the central North Sea had been delayed until the first half of 2015.

The find – a gas-condensate Forties sandstone reservoir – was originally due on stream at the end of 2014, but has been held up because of complex issues involving availability of infrastructure in the area.

Serica said the field-development project had been agreed among all the partners and it had applied to the UK Government for the go-ahead.

Columbus lies partly in Block 23/16f, operated by Serica with a 50% interest, and partly in Block 23/21 operated by BG.

Under a unitisation agreement, Serica will hold a 33.2% interest in the field and act as operator.

The engineering design of the subsea and production facilities has been completed and consists of two production wells tied back to the nearby Lomond platform by a pipeline and a minimum-facility platform connected to Lomond by a bridge.

Serica said development wells were due to be drilled in 2014 and subsea equipment installed that year.

Initial daily production rates for Columbus are estimated to be 60million cubic feet of gas and 3,000 barrels of condensate.

Serica was formed in 2004 and has interests in the UK, Norway, offshore Ireland and west Africa.

It is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and London Aim.

Tony Craven Walker, chairman and interim chief executive of the operator, said yesterday: “Serica is very well placed to expand on the clear potential of its properties and we remain totally committed to demonstrating the value of our assets.

“The company looks forward to bringing the Columbus project into production while also keeping under review ways of bringing forward the full value of the project for the benefit of shareholders.”

Mr Craven Walker said Serica continued to seek ways to unlock value in its portfolio, adding: “Market conditions remain depressed, but the potential of the company’s assets has attracted a number of proposals, all of which could provide opportunities for the company to realise or accelerate values and improve shareholder return. The company is evaluating these proposals in line with its previously stated strategy to determine the best means of enhancing asset values for shareholders whilst also preserving the unrealised upside for future growth.”

These proposals are thought to involve Serica possibly farming out stakes in its ventures, rather than any sale.

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