Exclusive: North Sea newcomer targets deals after celebrating first oil

The Ninian Central Platform
The Ninian Central Platform

North Sea newcomer Decipher Energy has delivered first oil from the Orlando field less than two years after taking over the 10 million barrel project from a victim of the downturn.

Bosses at Decipher, founded in 2016, said Orlando was just the start for the Aberdeen firm as it presses ahead with a number of oilfield developments and hunts for acquisitions.

The business acquired an initial 75% of the field in April 2017 when it struck a deal with the administrators of Iona Energy, a Granite City firm which folded the previous year after failing to restructure its finances.

Decipher – led by Steve Bowyer, a former boss of now-defunct Aberdeen company First Oil – snapped up the remaining 25% of Orlando from Atlantic Petroleum.

Mr Bowyer revived a plan to develop Orlando as a tieback to the nearby Ninian Central platform, which is in the northern North Sea and is operated by Canadian business CNR International.

Decipher expects Orlando to reach peak production rates of more than 10,000 barrels of oil per day.

Oil will be transported to the Sullom Voe Terminal in Shetland for processing and offtake.

Mr Bowyer said bringing Orlando on stream within two years of completing the Iona acquisition was a “great achievement” and showed what could be achieved when operators and the wider supply chain agree a clear plan.

Oilfield services giant TechnipFMC completed the subsea work and Petrex Developments, of Aberdeen, managed the facilities development activities.

Decipher is also making tracks with its Senna and Mansell discoveries and hopes to make a final investment decision on a joint development project this year.

The company is targeting up to 70m barrels of oil equivalent from the fields.

Decipher believes its assets could form a new northern North Sea production centre.

Mr Bowyer added that Decipher was in the market for North Sea asset deals.

He said: “In parallel with maturing our existing portfolio, we are targeting the acquisition of further high value development opportunities and are in a strong position to execute our growth plans as a result of strong investor support.”

The company, which has six employees at its office on Queens Road, is backed by US investment firms Oaktree Capital and TPG Sixth Street Partners.

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