Premier Oil will be “increasing its workforce” in other UK projects as the vessel which produces through its Huntington field prepares to sail off in summer.
The firm recently decided to decommission the central North Sea field, bringing woes for dozens of jobs at contractor Teekay, which owns the Voyageur Spirit floating production, storage and offloading vessel (FPSO).
Premier’s chief executive Tony Durrant confirmed that a mid-June date is expected for the sailaway of the FPSO, currently stationed at Huntington around 140miles off Aberdeen, after the field came to a “natural end”.
The operator said it is “doing its bit” with plans to bring extra work amid a “significant amount of activity” for the UK in 2020.
Premier is planning to start up its new Tolmount gas field in the Southern North Sea, bring additional satellite fields online at its flagship Catcher development, and progress work at its newly-acquired Andrew Area assets from BP.
Mr Durrant said: “We’re doing our bit because Premier is very much a growing business in the UK. New projects like Tolmount and the Catcher satellites, like the lower cretaceous project at BP we’ll certainly be increasing our workforce on other projects.
“The Huntington field has come to a natural end but I’m sure that Teekay is looking at other projects in the UK to redeploy the Voyageur on those other new projects.”
Earlier this week Teekay denied claims it had decided to cut up to 35 jobs over the loss of the Huntington contract, which it had hoped to extend by another year.
At one stage it was claimed up to 100 people could lose their jobs, but Teekay has been seeking to reduce this as much as possible through other opportunities for the crew globally, as well as discussions for new work for the Voyageur Spirit.
Premier highlighted that, since becoming the Huntington operator in 2016, it has managed to squeeze more barrels and reserves from the field which was initially planned to be shut down in 2017.
The operator called time on Huntington after a combination of the drop of production and the cost of leasing the FPSO made it no longer profitable.
Final cargo is expected to be lifted in April.
Mr Durrant added: “Huntington has been a fantastic performer for us, the life of the field has gone on a lot longer than anticipated.
“We’ve had more reserves, more production but we have got to the point where there is only 3,000 barrels per day and given the fixed-cost nature of our lease arrangement on the FPSO we’re not making any money on Huntington going forward.
“The choice was really do we abandon this summer or next summer, because it always makes sense to do that work in the summer period. We didn’t want to sustain any losses through to the summer of 2021 so that’s the call and mid-June will be the sailaway date.
“Of course, the remainder of the abandonment project for Huntington – the well abandonment, etc – will be spread over multiple years according to the rest of our schedule and our rig arrangements.
“The sailaway of the vessel, the clean up of the flowlines, will be this summer.”