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Shell takes three-year extension on Maersk Curlew contract

Lloyds List: Shell takes three-year extension on Maersk Curlew contract

Tuesday 14 June 2005

Anglo-Dutch group set to develop further satellites as FPSO gets new lease of life that will see it through to 2008, writes Martyn Wingrove

SHELL is making a commercial commitment to develop more of the fields surrounding the Maersk Curlew production ship after extending its lease for another three years.

The Anglo-Dutch oil major had its eye on developing satellites to the floating production storage offloading vessel for the past five years and seems to be willing to make further progress after extending its lease with Maersk Contractors.

The 99,800 dwt FPSO first started production in November 1997 and is a hub for Canadian Natural Resources’ Kyle field. It has now been given a new lease of life to keep it going for another three years and possibly longer.

Last week, Maersk Contractors gained a GBP200m ($365m) lease extension from Shell for the Maersk CurlewFPSO that will keep the vessel producing in the UK central North Sea at least until September 2008.

‘The deal provides a hub for continued economic production and a development route for resources in the area including third-party production,’ said Kieron McFadyen, Shell Exploration ‘ Production’s technical director in Europe.

‘This is a good deal for the Curlew joint-venture and a good deal for the industry and underlines our commitment to the core area of the North Sea.’

Currently, Canadian Natural Resources, operator of the nearby Kyle field, leases the vessel from Maersk Contractors, but it will revert to Shell in September when Kyle’s wellstream goes to the nearby Banff production ship, leased from Petroleum Geo-Services.

The FPSO, with a storage capacity of 560,000 barrels, is producing on the Curlew D structure, while other parts of the Curlew field are left untapped.

After extending the lease contract, it is likely Shell will invest more in the oil field to raise output levels and market the vessel as a hub for other satellites.

‘As a result of this investment and recent technical work, the nearby discoveries Curlew A and C have been re-evaluated,’ said Mr McFadyen.

By developing these fields first, Shell could keep the vessel operating for more than the three years and potentially for 10 years, said a Shell source.

The vessel would be the ideal hub for some of the smaller discoveries in the area, where there is likely to be more appraisal and evaluation work in the next few years.

Last month, Aberdeen-based Venture Production bought Amerada Hess’ stake in several stranded oil fields in the central North Sea, including a few surrounding Maersk Curlew.

Acorn and Beechnut discoveries lie east of the FPSO and the smaller Centurion is located north-west of the field. All three are in potential tie-back distances from the vessel and may be seen as candidates for future satellites.

In the southern sector, ATP Oil ‘ Gas has bought Gaz de France’s share in its Tors project to gain total control on a double-platform project.

The Houston-based independent becomes the sole development and production operator of the Kilmar and Garrow gas fields that are expected on-line next year.

‘This acquisition allows us to accelerate development activities and increase our proved reserves to over 100bn cu ft in the North Sea,’ said ATP’s chairman and president Paul Bulmahn.

‘The multiple wells scheduled for development at Tors are presently part of our 2006 development programme. We are also currently underway with the development of our first project in the Dutch sector.’

On Tors, ATP has ordered a platform for the Kilmar field in UK block 43’22 to be delivered in the third quarter of this year. Gulf Island Fabricators is building the 1,100 tonnes jacket and Lowestoft-based SLP Engineering the 500-tonne topsides.

ATP is also tendering for another platform to be installed early next year on the Garrow field in block 43’21. In the North Sea, it is a partner in the L-06d gas field development in the Dutch sector and has plans to develop the large Cheviot oil field in the UK northern sector.

Its latest ideas to develop Cheviot involve a small production platform and a jack-up rig that would sit on concrete blocks to enable drilling in deeper waters.

Also in the southern sector, ConocoPhillips has installed the wellhead platform on the Munro gas field and jack-up rig Ensco 92 is hooking up to drill development wells in block 44’17b.

Gaz de France has suspended its West Boulton exploration well in block 43’25a after a six-month drilling programme that included four sidetracks using the Noble Julie Robertson jack-up rig. The French company remains quiet about the well’s results.

In the central sector, Nexen has spudded its Polecat exploration well in block 20’4a using Transocean’s John Shaw semi-submersible rig. The prospect lies east of Nexen’s Buzzard development and the Ettrick oil discovery.

Rival Canadian firm Talisman has finished its Tartan West appraisal well using Diamond Offshore’s Ocean Nomad rig and is expected to announce the results soon.

NEXEN has made progress on its large Buzzard oil development in the UK North Sea by awarding contracts to Aker Verdal and having the jackets installed.

Aker Verdal has secured the contract to build the flare and bridges linking three platforms at Buzzard, beating off competition from Burntisland Fabricators (BiFab). Work will start on the structures in August and they could be delivered by March 2006.

BiFab has just completed the 4,200 tonne wellhead platform topsides for Nexen at the Methil yard near Edinburgh. The module has been loaded on to the Smit 4 barge to be moved to the field this summer.

Saipem’s crane barge S7000 has installed the production platform jacket and is set to place the wellhead jacket on the seabed at Buzzard this month. Development drilling is due to begin in August. and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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