Government and regulators have signed off Ithaca Energy’s plans for a further phase of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) at the North Sea’s Captain field.
Ithaca (LON:ITH) filed an environmental statement (ES) for Captan EOR Phase 2 last summer, approval for which has now been granted – paving the way for completion of the £400m development 90 miles east of Aberdeen.
Secretary of State approval for the project was agreed in June, with the North Sea Transition Authority following suit on 19 October.
A billion-barrel field, Captain began producing in 1997 with the first phase of its EOR programme brought online in 2016 under the tenure of former owner Chevron.
The scheme involves the injection of polymerised water at the field, which increases its viscosity and hydrocarbon recovery from the reservoir. In stage one, six new polymer injection wells were drilled and the Captain platform was upgraded, with more than 10 million barrels now produced using the method.
Ithaca (85%) sanctioned a second stage of EOR in early 2021 alongside equity partner Dana Petroleum (15%), investment in which is aimed at delivering 40 million more barrels over two phases.
This will see six new subsea polymer injection wells drilled across two new drill centres, as well as one further production well at an existing site. Ithaca secured the COSL Pioneer for the work in 2021, and the rig has been on station since late 2022.
The field currently includes a wellhead protector platform and bridge linked platform connected to a floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel and two subsea manifolds tied back and connected to the platforms by a suite of pipelines.
Following submission, regulators made two requests for further information and clarification in December 2022 and February 2023, covering various portions of the environmental statement.
Notably, OPRED sought to clarify that the additional 2.7MW power demand required as a result of the Phase 2 project, would be met “only with an increased use of diesel on the FPSO,” and that there would be “no additional fuel requirements” on any other installation except the five generators on the FPSO.
It comes as Ithaca also looks to progress an electrification scheme for the wider Captain field, pursuing a power-from-shore connection or link to a nearby wind farm that it says could remove up to 100,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent annually.
At the same time however, it has reportedly paused efforts to electrify assets in the West of Shetland.
Work at Captain remains ongoing, with offshore activity expected to last until the end of Q2 2024.
First injection is slated for Q1 2024 in Ithaca’s environmental statement – though CEO Alan Bruce has suggested it could happen sooner. As of early June, he said EOR phase 2 work was “still on schedule and on-budget.”
First production from the new well is then due in Q2 2024.
Ithaca declined to comment on the regulatory approval.