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Shell approves second North Sea project this year

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By: , SA News Editor

Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.ARDS.Bapproves its second North Sea project in six months, moving forward with development of the Fram natural gas field it considered uneconomical to produce six years ago. Shell, along with partner Exxon Mobil (XOM -1.7%), says it plans to produce as much as 13K boe/day from two wells in the Fram field by 2020, adding ~10% to the company’s current output in the U.K. North Sea.

Steve Phimister, head of Shell’s U.K. exploration and production unit, says deep cost cuts following crude’s decline and connecting smaller oil and gas pools to bigger projects are allowing it to squeeze more out of an aging North Sea, and that the company may take several more investment decisions in the North Sea this year because of the improved economics. The Fram wells would be profitable with oil below $40/bbl, Phimister says, a result in-line with CEO Ben van Beurden’s requirement that all new deepwater projects would be approved only if they make money at that price level.

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