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Lloyds List: BG and Conoco to seek early development on major UK discovery

By: Discovery of up to 275m barrels of oil equivalent in the North Sea Shoei field is one of the UKs biggest gas condensate finds of the past decade, writes Martyn Wingrove, Lloyds List
Published: Sep 12, 2006

BG Group and Conoco-Phillips are targeting early development for one of the UK’s largest gas condensate discoveries for a decade.

The British gas firm and US oil major have found up to 275m barrels of oil equivalent reserves in the Shoei field in the central North Sea and have already drilled appraisal sidetracks.

Shoei lies in blocks 30’6 and 30’7, close to ConocoPhillips’ Judy platform, which is a potential hub for exporting Shoei’s gas and condensates as there are pipelines to the Teesside terminals.

BG said the discovery was substantial and a ConocoPhillips’ spokeswoman said the partners, which include Italian major Eni, are ‘in the process of evaluation and working towards development sanction’.

‘This is one of the largest recent North Sea discoveries and represents a near term, near infrastructure project,’ said Mark Carne, BG’s executive vice-president for Europe.

‘This is BG’s fifth discovery in the central North Sea in the past 12 months and reinforces the prospects for our UK exploration and production business.’

ConocoPhillips completed the discovery wells and appraisal sidetracks using the Ensco 102 jack-up rig in August and has finished drilling the Judy South production well in block 30’7a with jack-up rig Maersk Inspirer.

The US oil major is planning to drill another exploration well in the central sector to probe the Acer prospect in block 16’13c next month.

ConocoPhillips’ partner Tullow thinks the prospect near the Miller platform is a stratigraphic trap with potential reserves of more than 100m barrels of oil. Tullow will also be involved in drilling the 100m barrel Peveril prospect in block 39’2c in November, said its chief financial officer Tom Hickey.

Close to Shoei, Shell has spudded its Quasimodo exploration well in block 29’10 using Diamond Offshore’s rig Ocean Guardian.

Another US firm, Apache, is about to start an exploratory well in the central sector once the Petrolia semi-submersible has arrived from Ireland.

The Houston-based company will drill the Bacchus East structure in block 22’6a to find out if there are enough reserves to move ahead with a development.

Bacchus has been lined up as a possible satellite to Apache’s Forties platforms, where the New York-listed group has boosted production to more than 70,000 barrels per day.

Apache is thought to be looking to use the rig after the Bacchus East well to drill an appraisal programme on the abandoned Maureen field in block 16’29, which could lead to its redevelopment.

Meanwhile, German group RWE Dea has contracted Technip Offshore to lay the 48 km export pipeline for the Cavendish gas field development in the southern sector.

Technip will use its Apache reel-lay ship to install the line to ConocoPhillips’ Caister Murdoch hub in the fourth quarter after the vessel completed other contracts ahead of schedule.

Development drilling will start this month on Cavendish and first gas exports are expected in early 2007.

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