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Lloyds List: Venture books Sevan platform for Pilot field

Life of the heavy oil development likely to be five to nine years, writes Martyn Wingrove,
Published: Jan 02, 2007

VENTURE Production is set to develop the Pilot heavy oil field in the North Sea with a Sevan Stabilised Platform after signing a $355m contract with Norwegian company Sevan Marine for a second floating unit.

The Aberdeen independent aims to use an SSP 300 floating production storage and offloading unit to start pumping oil from the Pilot field in block 21’27a in 2009.

Venture has asked Sevan to undertake the engineering and provide the cylindrical-designed FPSO for a test production phase as the first part of the contract.

This could be extended for the life of the field, likely to be five to nine years, depending on results of an appraisal well and government approval of the development plan.

‘Our alliance with Sevan has enabled us to secure access to a second floating production unit, making Pilot an attractive potential development,’ said Venture’s chief executive Mike Wagstaff.

His London-listed company already has one SSP 300 on order from Sevan for the Chestnut oil field in block 22’2. The Sevan Hummingbird is near completion at Yantai Raffles shipyard in China and will head for Rotterdam in the first quarter for topsides to be installed.

Meanwhile, Shell has started production from the Merganser gas condensate field in the central sector with subsea wells tied back to the Shearwater platform.

Shell has used a variety of technologies to develop the geologically challenging field in blocks 22’30a and 22’25a including a 4,000 ft sand screen, the longest in the North Sea, 14,000 ft extended reach wells and subsea multiphase metering units.

‘Our technical ability enables development of small fields, allowing us to bring more gas to the market,’ said Shell’s head of exploration and production in Europe, Tom Botts.

The Merganser field is linked to Shearwater via the Scoter subsea facilities. There is a 4 km subsea line to Scoter, then a 12 km pipeline to Shearwater.

Gas from there is sent along the Seal pipeline to Bacton and liquids along the Forties pipeline system by way of the Marnock platform.

Shell and ExxonMobil have 44% equity each in Merganser, while E.ON Ruhrgas has an 8% stake and Eni and Nippon Oil have 2% each.

Also last month, Shell sought government approval to modify the Curlew floating production storage and offloading vessel as part of the Curlew C development.

Shell intends to upgrade the mooring and riser turret, subsea controls and power systems on the vessel to extend its operating life as it plans to start production from the Curlew C deposit in August .

In April GlobalSantaFe’s rig Arctic IV will begin drilling the development well on Curlew C and a pipeline could be laid in the third quarter.

Also in the central North Sea, Endeavour International and Serica Energy have tested the Columbus gas condensate discovery in block 23’16f, providing evidence for a commercial project.

The well, drilled by rig GSF140, was tested at flow rates of 17.5m cu ft of gas and 1,060 barrels of condensate a day. Endeavour is planning to drill an appraisal well and wants a fast track development using one of the production platforms in the area.

Analysts believe Columbus could be larger than anticipated and reserves could go up to 30m barrels.

– Canadian independent Oilexco has awarded a $255m contract to Diamond Offshore to lease its semi-submersible rig Ocean Guardian from April to increase its drilling levels in the North Sea.

The company will pay a day rate of $350,000 until April, 2009, to drill more exploration wells and develop new oil and gas discoveries.

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