BP boss Mark Thomas has hailed the west of Shetland the North Sea’s “next chapter of opportunity”.
Speaking exclusively to Energy Voice, the North regional president said: “It has a lot of potential. There are a lot basins in the world where it’s just about running it out. There’s no future growth. There’s no new opportunities. You’re just running out the commodity. The North Sea is not like that. The North Sea has a tremendous portfolio of mature assets. There is the challenge we’re going to be facing as we come into decommissioning, but it also has some really great growth opportunities as well.”
The firm’s latest ventures – the Clair Ridge platform and Glen Lyon FPSO – are both located in the area. The two, which will unlock a billion barrels of oil, will cement BP’s commitment to the area for the next 40 years.
Mr Thomas said: “The west of Shetland is the next chapter, but by no means can you take it for granted either.
“The further we get out into the Atlantic the more challenging it is economically to develop the resources we find.
“So it’s one thing to go drill an exploration well and find two, three, four hundred million barrels of oil, but when you get into a thousand or more feet of water it becomes more and more challenging.
“I think we all know the weather and environment in the Shetlands is challenging. It’s a tough place to operate. There’s no question for us that we will be able to find the resource.
“The question will be can we develop it economically, and get it to market at an economical price. Technology is going to play a big part in that.”
Although BP has had to battle the declining oil price in the past 18 months, Mr Thomas insisted the firm’s commitment to projects was stronger than ever.
He added: “We’re fortunate to have a very good position with some foresight in the west of Shetland. We believe that is our future, but we’re not abandoning everything else either. In the Central North Sea, we have a very good and strong position there too. We just announced last month our deepening in the Culzean project, which was very big undertaking with Maersk.”
“We’ve never second-guessed whether we should make the investment or not, or whether we should stop the projects.
“We’re absolutely committed to it. We take the long view. Clair Ridge has two to three decades ahead of it. The pricing environment could last a few years, could last five years, but it’s not going to last 20 years. We’ve maintained pace, remain fully committed to the projects and look forward to the day they produce.”
Andy Samuel, the chief executive of the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) commitment to the North Sea, and said: “The OGA is very pleased to see this important milestone in BP’s continued development of the Clair field and the safe arrival of the Glen Lyon FPSO in the Schiehallion field.
“Technological advances have been key to these developments which add significant reserves and also maximise economic recovery to extend the life of the existing fields.
“BP’s ongoing commitment and investment in the North Sea brings great benefit to the people it employs, the supply chain and wider community and is testament to the prospectively that remains on the UKCS.”
Earlier this year, Total confirmed first gas from its flagship Laggan-Tormore development in the North Sea.
To read more about BP’s North Sea job creation click here.
To see a breakdown of Clair’s fact and figures click here.
To see a photo gallery of Glen Lyon in-tow click here.