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Fire and equipment failures hit production for Premier Oil Catcher field

Harbour Energy
The FPSO for the Catcher field operated by Harbour Energy

A fire on board and other equipment failures cut production at the Premier Oil Catcher FPSO by nearly a quarter last year.

Premier Oil’s flagship field produced 26,100 barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2020, down from 33,600 per day the prior year.

The firm highlighted a number of “prolonged shutdowns” for Catcher in 2020 in its newly-published annual report.

In November, production was knocked out by a fire in the electrical equipment,  affecting the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) switchboard.

No one was hurt but the issue caused an outage of more than a week.

Before that, in September, Premier Oil had a build up of “calcium naphthenate” in the produced water plant in the Catcher topsides, which also constrained production.

Premier said these “resulted in short-term production outages and constrained oil rates for a few weeks in the fourth quarter while a build-up of calcium naphthenate was removed from the produced water plant”.

It added: “The reservoir continues to outperform with the group recognising a further reserves upgrade at year-end.”

Development drilling on two Catcher satellites – Laverda and Catcher North – was deferred in 2020 due to Covid but expected to begin in early 2022.

The Covid crisis, bringing down oil prices, also saw Premier take a $140million impairment on the value of its Solan project in the West of Shetland.

Meanwhile a final investment decision on the expansion to its Tolmount project in the Southern North Sea – is due in the second quarter of the year.

Front-end engineering design (FEED) work on the project was completed in 2020.

Premier Oil said: “Once on-stream Tolmount East (and potentially the near field Mongour discovery which could also be developed as a subsea tieback to the Tolmount infrastructure) will help extend plateau production from the Tolmount area.”

Drilling work is underway on the main Tolmount development, targeting first gas in the second quarter.

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