Ten wells are active in the UK sector – five exploration and five appraisals – all mobile-based. A flurry of activity at the end March/early April saw the number of spuds rise to 13 wells – eight exploration and five appraisals as well as one exploration and three appraisal sidetracks. One exploration re-spud and two exploration re-entries are also recorded.
The number of on-going development and production wells on UKCS fields is 21. The number of spuds this year has risen to 15 wells, plus 15 sidetracks initiated. Most production drilling is in the Central North Sea (10 wells on nine fields), followed by the Southern North Sea (seven wells), the Northern North Sea (three wells) with a single operation – Total’s Tormore field – West of Shetland. Two- thirds of this crop are being drilled by 14 mobilise, with just nine rigs on E&A duties.
Six rigs remain active – three semi-subs and three jack-ups). WilPhoenix remains on station on Premier’s Bonneville discovery where well 28/9a-6 was followed by appraisal leg 28/9a-6Z. This, the first indicated find of 2013 has some 30million “in-place” barrels of oil in Tertiary sands and is within tie-back range of the proposed Catcher development.
WilHunter is at Invergordon after abandoning Suncor’s Upper Jurassic Scotney prospect well 20/5b-12 as a duster. BG is understood to have reached total depth with well 30/2a-10 (Rowan Gorilla VI) which targeted the U.Jurassic Thunderer prospect. It was the first UK spud of 2013.
Ocean Nomad, having abandoned Dana’s Magnolia prospect, well 13/23a-7A, as a dry hole mobilised to start First Oil’s Centurion South well 29/6a-8 on March 30. Spudding a day later was GDF Suez well 22/23c-8 on the U.Jurassic Taggart/Rotliegendes Rebus prospect with the Galaxy II. Spudding on the same day was Talisman’s well 22/24e-12 . . . an appraisal of Seagull North using the Sedco 711.
Ocean Princess moved off EnQuest’s long-running Kildrummy appraisal, well 15/17a-28Z, while Maersk’s U.Cretaceous Ockley well 30/1d-12Z (Ensco 101) was abandoned following a horizontal sidetrack test programme.
The most recent CNS spud is Maersk’s well 13/26a-5 on the Stephenson prospect, the Noble Ton van Langeveld having moved from the Tullich field up in the northern sector.
Operations on Total’s well 3/15a-16Z on the Laphroaig prospect (Sedco 714) continue. EnQuest spudded Kraken/Ketos appraisal, well 9/2b-6 (Ocean Princess) on April 7. The well, possibly the last – or penultimate – appraisal prior to development is targeting Palaeocene (heavy oil) sands.
After 353 days, excluding a weather related break, BP finally ended operations on North Uist/Cardhu well 213/25c-1 on March 21. The shallower (Cardhu) prospect was dry but the U.Jurassic reservoir (North Uist) was found to contain hydrocarbons and could, subject to evaluation, prove to be a sizeable gas condensate discovery. The drillship Stena Carron is next due to re-visit block 204/5a to drill a Cambo field appraisal for Chevron/Hess.
As expected, RWE spudded a well on the Carboniferous Severn prospect; the Ensco 92 starting operations on April 2.
No E&A activity is currently recorded in the East Irish Sea Basin.
In summary, North Uist rescued what was otherwise a dire year for E&A activity in UK waters. Likewise for Q1 this year, Premier’s Bonneville discovery appears to be the sole find of the quarter. We have calculated that there were 23% fewer E&A spuds during the first quarter of the current year than for Q1 2012.
Mixed bag from Norwegian Sector
Nine wells are active on the NCS – two are appraisal while seven are exploratory. Six of the nine are in the North Sea, two are in the Norwegian Sea and just one in the Barents Sea. April saw the spud of five wells bringing this year’s total to 18 starts, while both the number of re-entries and sidetracks to date remains at nil.
There are 20 development/production wells active . . . 16 in the North Sea, three in the Norwegian Sea, and one (Goliat field) in the Barents Sea. These 20 wells are targeting 17 fields and utilising six platform rigs, 10 semi-submersibles and four jack-ups.
Lundin spudded Carlsberg probe 7/4-3 early month while Rocksource started on Storbarden well 26/5-1, though a decision has been taken to abandon it after 20 days of drilling.
Dong is working on its Musling exploration probe 3/7-9 S to the south with Maersk Giant, while Wintershall completed Skarfjell North appraisal well 35/9-8 (Transocean Arctic).
The remaining activity is on Quad 16, where Lundin spudded another Johan Sverdrup appraisal, 16/2-17 S, towards the month-end, whilst exploration well Luno II (Bredford Dolphin) continued. Meanwhile, Statoil was unsuccessful on Lupin, with well 16/8-3 (Songa Trym) abandoned as dry.
March saw the completion of three Lundin-operated wells, with both its Ogna and Jorvik exploration probes, 8/5-1 and 16/1-17, abandoned, while Johan Sverdrup appraisal 16/3-5 was, perhaps unsurprisingly, abandoned as a success (P&A oil). Statoil also wrapped-up operations on its Johan Sverdrup extension well 16/5-3 (P&A oil). Dong completed operations on its 2012 Trym South well 3/7-8 S (P&A oil & gas) early month, with the Maersk Giant moving to Musling.
Two active wells are recorded – both appraisals. Wintershall spudded mid-month its Mjøsa probe, well 5406/6-3 (Transocean Arctic), whilst Shell spudded its first Norwegian well of the year, 6406/9-3, on Onyx South.
There remains just one active probe. Total’s Norvarg appraisal, well 7225/3-2, was spudded just prior to month-end by the Leiv Eiriksson. Repsol’s Darwin exploration well was abandoned as a dry hole after 38 days. This had been seen as in important play-opener for the area.
In summary, activity remains rather mixed. The failure of Darwin especially will no doubt be considered unfortunate, especially given the frontier nature of the Barents Sea. But hopes remain high for Norvarg.
Statoil’s discovery of oil above the Gullfaks main reservoir is a welcome addition to this year’s “reserves found” tally, while active and recently completed appraisal activity should boost this figure further, notwithstanding the various exploration dusters.