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Lloyds List: Sturdy start for Britain as drill plans get green light

Published: Feb 27, 2007

THE BRITISH government has made a good start on its offshore energy plans for this year, sanctioning one onshore and four offshore projects, writes Martyn Wingrove .

The Department of Trade and Industry has approved Shell’s plans to develop the Starling gas-condensate field in the North Sea as a satellite to its Shearwater production platform.

Shell will use subsea facilities to develop Starling in block 29’3. It will also be able to use subsea equipment to develop the B and D sections of the Curlew field in block 29’7 after getting government sanction in January.

A Maersk-owned floating production storage and offloading vessel is used to process oil and gas from Curlew so the development of B and D sections should allow Shell to extend the vessel’s charter arrangements.

The DTI has also given Canadian firm Talisman Energy the green light to develop the small Duart oil field in block 14’29 with subsea wells tied back to the Tartan platform in the central sector. Talisman has semi-submersible rig Ocean Princess currently drilling the Duart North development well.

In addition, ExxonMobil has gained approval to develop the Loirston condensate field with extended reach wells drilled from the Beryl platform in block 9’13.

The onshore development getting DTI’s go ahead is Composite Energy’s Airth coal bed methane project.

Last year the British government sanctioned 28 offshore projects, including four in January, and eight onshore developments.

Meanwhile, Nexen and Oilexco are thought to have found more oil in the North Sea with the Kildare appraisal well in block 15’26b.

Transocean’s semi-submerisble rig Sedco 712 is deepening and then testing the well over the next two weeks before moving on to probe the Lauren Valley prospect in block 14’28a. Kildare lies north of Talisman’s Buchan floating production unit and south of Nexen’s own Scott platform.

Nexen has already been successful this year in finding oil in the UK sector after making a discovery on its Golden Eagle prospect in block 20’1, close to its Buzzard and Ettrick projects.

It is hoping to strike more oil with its Guinea well currently drilling in block 15’13b.

– German firm RWE Dea has farmed into Elixir Petroleum’s Leopard prospect in UK block 211’18b.

This should advance exploration plans for the structure while Elixir is searching for another farmee.

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