IOG has again been forced to shut in its key Saturn Banks assets, this time to address onshore compressor issues linked to condensate production.
In a 23 May update, the southern North Sea-focused producer said gas condensate flows coming ashore from its Blythe and Elgood fields have “fluctuated considerably,” since their start up in March, reaching peak levels of up to 1,850 barrels per day.
These liquids are processed at the Saturn Banks Reception Facilities (SBRF) which lie next to the main Perenco Bacton terminal, and are co-owned by IOG and CalEnergy Resources and operated by Perenco UK.
All liquids streams coming into Bacton, including those of Saturn Banks, are processed through the terminal’s condensate stabilisation unit (CSU).
In the past week, a Perenco operational risk assessment identified a drainage system deficiency in the CSU’s two recycle compressors, which has been highlighted by the increased condensate rates.
Perenco has said the issue must be addressed before any further Saturn Banks liquids can be processed and has limited the SBRF slugcatcher to a 15% maximum liquid level.
“Consequently, after progressive reduction in flow rates to manage these constraints, [Perenco] has now enforced a full shut-in of Blythe and Elgood production to prevent further liquids entering the slugcatcher,” IOG added.
It comes just weeks after a chemical injection fault on Blythe also forced production offline for a short period.
IOG chief executive Andrew Hockey added: “Whilst relatively high liquids flows are welcome and generate revenue, liquids handling issues within the Perenco Bacton terminal have unfortunately required a short-term shut-in of Saturn Banks production.”
“This is a very frustrating interruption to our efforts to maintain stable, consistent early gas flows, however, maintaining the highest safety standards must always be the first priority.”
Perenco has reportedly been developing a modification to the CSU compressor drainage system to resolve the issue.
Subject to a safety review scheduled for today (Monday 23 May), one compressor is expected to be modified within approximately one week, IOG added. This would enable “limited initial resumption” of Saturn Banks production, to around 30 million cubic feet per day of gas.
Modification of the second compressor is expected to take approximately one further week.
IOG says Saturn Banks production is therefore expected to be gradually restored to normal levels over the following weeks, though noted that Perenco’s safety review may yet affect this provisional timeline.
Despite these issues, the company says condensate yields from both fields are expected to decline rapidly during the first year of production, while the inbound Southwark field is expected to have far lower condensate yield.