Poor weather took its toll through much of last month; nonetheless, four wells were spudded and one operation – previously suspended due to harsh sea conditions – was resumed.
Eleven UKCS E&A wells are currently operating, up one on January. Eight are exploratory; the remaining three are appraisals.
In action are five semi-submersibles, four jack-ups, one platform-based rig and a single drillship working on six initial holes (spuds), three sidetracks and two re-entries.
Additionally, 23 development and production wells (including batch) operations are noted bringing the number of starts this year to 20 (five spuds and 15 sidetracks) across 21 fields. Of these programmes, just five are from platform-based rigs: North Alwyn, Tiffany, Alba North, Forties Charlie and Cormorant North.
Central North Sea
Seven wells are active in the CNS, utilising three semis, three jack-ups and a platform rig. On February 24, Dana spudded well 13/23a-7 on the Lower Cretaceous Minos prospect (Ocean Nomad); EnQuest’s Upper Jurassic Kildrummy appraisal 15/17a-28Z, continues (Ocean Princess); Suncor spudded U Jurassic Scotney prospect, well 20/5b-12 (WilHunter); and Apache spudded well 21/10-B54, a Forties Bravo platform appraisal.
In the southern part of the CNS, Maersk’s U Cretaceous Ockley appraisal 30/1d-12Z (Ensco 101), continues operations, probably testing, in the horizontal sidetrack; GDF Suez’s Talbot appraisal (Palaeocene), well 30/13a-11 (Galaxy II) continues; as does BG’s well 30/2a-10 (Rowan Gorilla VI) on the Thunderer prospect (U Jurassic).
Northern North Sea
Two wells are active in the NNS; Total’s 3/15a-16Z on the M Jurassic Laphroaig prospect (Sedco 714) and MPX’ well 211/b-7Re (Transocean John Shaw), operated by Taqa, re-entered towards the end of January to resume operations on the U Jurassic Timon prospect.
Taqa recently announced well 211/27e-13Z (S.Hutton exploration) was abandoned (February 19) having encountered a M Jurassic (Brent sands) oil column. It may be wrapped into the Darwin development programme.
Well 211/27a-14 (Darwin), suspended in January, also confirmed the presence of a Brent oil column and will be re-entered to conduct flow tests. Taqa will assume operatorship, from Fairfield, of blocks 211/27a, 211/27c & 211/27e at the end of this month.
West of Shetland
BP’s well 213/25c-1V is currently the only on-going E&A activity “drilling” programme WoS. The well on the North Uist/Cardhu (U Jurassic/Palaeocene) prospect was suspended, anticipating bad weather, the Stena Carron drillship seeking shelter before resuming operations mid-month.
Dong’s well 208/11-1 re-entry, was abandoned without comment early month after 25 days spent at TD, although weather conditions may have played a part. The drillship West Navigator left UK waters for Shell Norway.
Southern North Sea
There is currently no E&A drilling in the SNS
In the East Irish Sea basin, Centrica spudded well 110/8a-7 on the Triassic Ventnor prospect mid-month, to the south of Morecambe South field. Immediately prior, the Noble Byron Welliver (JU) had completed operations on the successful Triassic Whitehaven prospect, well 113/27b-9.
The eight-well starts to date in 2013 (five spuds, one sidetrack and two re-entries) significantly betters the two exploration spuds recorded one year ago at the start of 2012.
Whilst much is being made of heavy investment in the UKCS last year and expected to continue, the fact remains that 2012 will probably go down as one of the poorest on record for discovered reserves per averaged well Taqa’s Darwin success (spudded last year) raises the outcome of exploration drilling on the UKCS in 2013 from the dire to the barely mediocre.
Only Total’s Laphroaig, BP’s North Uist and MPX’s Timon – the latter technically a 2012 spud – remain to potentially bolster 2012 statistics. As for the current year; its early days yet to report a find.
Lundin forging ahead
In Norwegian waters six E&A wells are active, four of which are exploratory and two appraisals of known discoveries. Three spuds are so far noted for last month, bringing the 2013 tally to eight wells, three more than for the UKCS.
All current activity on the NCS is confined to the North Sea where Lundin is operating half the pool of active wells.
Four exploration wells and two appraisals are active with four semi-submersibles and two jack-ups; Dong’s exploration probe, well 3/7-8 S (Maersk Giant) continues operations as does Lundin’s Ogna prospect, well 8/5-1 (Maersk Guardian), and on February 11, Lundin also spudded well 16/1-17 (Transocean Winner) on the Jorvik exploration prospect.
That operator’s Johan Sverdrup (Avlvadsnes) appraisal, well 16/3-5 progresses and Statoil spudded an exploration probe on the Johan Sverdrup extension with well 16/5-3 (Ocean Vanguard) on February 20. Early month, Wintershall spudded Skafjell (U Jurassic) appraisal, well 35/9-8 with the Transocean Arctic.
Last month, operations ended on Lundin’s successful Johan Sverdrup appraisal, well 16/2-16A, Statoil’s Nanna prospect, well 25/11-26, abandoned dry and the operator’s deviated Visund North exploration probe, well 34/8-15 S (COSL Pioneer) although its outcome is currently undisclosed.
Recently granted a drilling permit for the North Sea is Dong, which will utilise the Maersk Giant to drill the deviated Musling exploration probe.
Well 3/7-9 S, north-west of the Trym field and close to the boundary with the Danish sector. Lundin is also set to use the Maersk Guardian for exploration drilling in the North Sea when well 7/4-3 (Carlsberg Skagerrak/Carlsberg Chalk) spuds between the Gaupe and Brynhild fields.
No activity is currently noted in the Norwegian or Barents Seas. In the former, Wintershall’s well 6407/1-6 S on the Rodriguez prospect (Transocean Arctic) recorded a gas/condensate find and was abandoned late January. Dry holes were noted in Maersk’s well 6506/6-2 (Transocean Barents) and Statoil’s Lovund prospect, well 6610/10-1 (West Alpha) mid- and early-February respectively.
Based on Hannon Westwood’s assignment of discoveries to their year of spud, as with the UKCS, 2013 is yet to record a hit although the Rodriguez discovery adds to an already solid 2012 performance for Norway.
Simon Robertshaw’s column is courtesy of North Sea analysts Hannon Westwood