There’s been success, delays and some duds in the first half of 2023 for UK North Sea exploration and appraisal – and a few unknowns.
We take a look at some of the notable developments.
North Sea exploration – Skerryvore
Westwood Global originally had this as a well to watch for 2023, but Parkmead said Monday that it is now expected to spud in Q4, 2024.
Partnered with Serica and CalEnergy, London-listed operator Parkmead (50%) is targeting an estimated 157m barrels of oil equivalent from the well, which could be tied in to nearby infrastructure.
The field sits close-by to ConocoPhillips’ Tommeliten A field, which straddles the UK-Norway border.
Devil’s Hole Horst
Westwood has named Devil’s Hole Horst, from North Sea Natural Resources (NSNR) as the biggest target potentially expecting to be operating in the UK in 2023.
The Valaris Norway jack-up was handed a contract in January – it is due to start work on Devil’s Hole Horst in August, according to the latest fleet status report.
During a webinar last month, Westwood Global Energy Group reported that pre-drill estimates had dropped – from 990m barrels to 580m – after a new Competent Person’s Report shown at the BEOS conference in London, but chance of success had increased.
An approval for this North Sea exploration well was granted by environmental regulator OPRED earlier this month.
Documents submitted to OPRED by operator Dana Petroleum said drilling operations will begin from the 16th of June ansd expected to last 149 days, using the Valaris 121 rig.
Dana Petroleum told trade publication Upstream this well is due to spud in mid-July, which it reported as having pre-drill estimates of around 15 million barrels.
Earn is a potential tie-back to the Tolmount installation in the Southern North Sea.
This week Benriach, previously estimated to hold mid-case resources of 638 billion cubic feet of gas, has been deemed sub-commercial, according to TotalEnergies’ partner Kistos Energy.
It followed another West of Shetland disappointment in BP’s Ben Lawers in May, which had pre-drill estimates of 70 million barrels.
Elsewhere for TotalEnergies, it confirmed hydrocarbons at its hotly-tipped Isabella prospect in January.
Results are expected to be announced in the middle of the year, it’s been said previously.
Ithaca Energy (LON: ITH), Neptune Energy and Energean are partnered on the prospect.
Hailed by Neptune Energy as “one of the most exciting prospects” in the central North Sea, it is hoped appraisal drilling at Isabella will firm up estimated volumes of 120 million barrels of oil equivalent.
The prospect lies about 105 miles east of Aberdeen, and 25 miles south of Total Energies’ Elgin-Franklin Field, where Ithaca Energy also holds a 6.09% working interest, though several tie-back possibilities for the field have been mooted.
Staying with Ithaca, drilling is under way at its operated K2 prospect, having kicked off earlier this month with the Stena Spey.
According to independent estimates from advisory firm Envoi, K2 has estimated resource potential of 102 million barrels of oil equivalent, via numerous geological targets on the block.
The prospect sits in licence P2382 in Block 22/14c, with Ithaca operator (50%), partnered with Dana Petroleum (50%).
K2 sits around 128 miles off the Aberdeenshire coast. Operations are expected to last a total of 92 days.
The closest oil and gas installation is the Harbour Energy North Everest platform, which is 9.5 miles to the north-east, with closest pipeline 3.5m west from the well ( the Wood-operated CATS pipeline).
Ithaca is also a participant in the Leverett discovery (12%) operated by Harbour Energy.
Appraisal work will take place in Q2/Q3, Ithaca said earlier this month. If successful, Leverett could be tied-back to Harbour’s Greater Britannia Area.
The discovery has previously been said to hold 40 million barrels of gas-condensate resources.
Deltic said pre-drill volumetrics for Pensacola had been confirmed by the well, with a P50 estimated ultimate recovery of 302 billion cubic feet (bcf).
The firm told Energy Voice in April that a further appraisal is anticipated for this new discovery.
Analyst firm Wood Mackenzie currently holds Pensacola as economically viable, adding that, once appraised it is “highly likely” that it will be upgraded to commercial at some point in the future.
Crosgan and Dabinett
One-Dyas has not yet announced results of its southern North Sea Crosgan appraisal, which was due for spud in Q1 via the Valaris 123.
Elsewhere the Danibett prospect, from Horizon Energy Partners, recently had an uplift via an independent assessment, which took its prospective resources to 202 million barrels of oil equivalent.
Spudded back in January, results have not yet been disclosed for TotalEnergies’ wholly-owned Alwyn East well.
Pre-drill P10 resources are c. 215 bcf gas or 26 million barrels of oil.