DESPITE appearing to be a relatively quiet corner of the UK Continental Shelf, the Southern North Sea (SNS) remains a vibrant sector.
Predominantly a gas region, it is home to the Bacton Gas Terminal, where some 30% of the UK’s gas enters the country, from the UK and Europe.
Banchory-based Sterling Resources recently said initial gas production on its substantial Breagh field was now less than a year away, after approval of its £400million-plus field-development plan.
RWE is developing Clipper South, Wintershall is developing the Wingate field and Talisman is redeveloping the Auk South and developing Auk North, with first production due in the fourth quarter for the latter.
Centrica is finishing its new Ensign platform, being built by Heerema in Hartlepool, where its York platform will then be built.
It is also due to make a final investment decision on the significant Cygnus find, estimated to have 2trillion cu ft of gas, early in 2012.
BP and ConocoPhillips have assets for sale in the sector but, as yet, no one has come out as a front-runner.
Independent operator Perenco, which entered the North Sea by buying BP assets in 2003, was among the first to focus on decommissioning, with its Welland platform successfully removed from the seabed and its topsides reused offshore west Africa.
Perenco is also extending the lives of fields beyond original prediction.
Shell is decommissioning its Indefatigible field.
However, a proposed gas storage project in the depleted Baird field feeding in from the terminal has been sidelined by Centrica due to unfavourable economics of the project – partially due to a more stable gas price.