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ThisIsNorthScotland.co.uk: FANCY AN ATLANTIC FRONTIER FARM-IN WITH SHELL?

08:50 – 01 October 2007

There have been plenty of headlines about the tranche of UK offshore assets put up for sale by Shell. That the company is also seeking to reduce its stakes a number of exploration prospects through farm-ins has largely been overlooked.

Shell is seeking a farm-in into its UK Atlantic Margin licence P799 to earn a stake in the concession in exchange for funding a well to be drilled next year on the South Uist prospect using Ocean Rig’s heavy-duty semi-submersible rig, Leiv Eiriksson.

Like the block 154/1 North Benbecula well drilled in 2006 by the Transocean Rather, the intended South Uist probe is part of Shell’s “Big Cats” programme.

The rig is on charter for two years at a baseline dayrate of 465,000 and is due for refitting at Las Palmas in line with Irish, Norwegian and UK requirements before kicking off the programme.

Reflecting on the Benbecula probe, well 154/1-2 was abandoned on 20 August 2006 after 63 days. Energy understands that the probe encountered gas but that Shell has still made no comment on the outcome.

Benbecula was originally found by Enterprise Oil (acquired by Shell). The 45-day discovery well 154/1-1 reportedly tested gas from the Palaeocene and the similar time at total depth of well 154/1-2 equally suggests time was available for a drill stem test. Expectation is that it will be next year before drilling on the South Uist prospect starts. This 13th Round, Tranche 7 target is located on block 213/25a,.

Offshore the Faroe Islands, Shell is also seeking to farm-out stakes in its licences 007 and 009, with the former containing the William prospect, which should be spudded later this year.

Funding of a well in exchange for a stake in licence 007 is offered, while the company is seeking offers regarding licence 009.

In the Irish sector, Shell is seeking to farm-out stakes in licences 2/94 and 2/05 in the Irish Rockall Basin in return for funding one well on each of the licences. The Dooish discovery (still classed as a tight hole) and West Dooish prospect lie in licence 2/94, while the Middleton prospect is on licence 2/05. Offers are due by October 15.

At the other end of the Atlantic, Shell is also hunting for a farm-in partner, this time to partner drilling the BMC 31 concession, which is located in an established productive oil fairway. Two of the largest oilfields in Brazil, Roncador and Albacora Leste, are in adjacent blocks.

The primary prospect is a large, three-way dip closure against a salt ridge. The play concept has been successfully tested in the area, providing a direct analogue for this prospect. Additional prospects in other play types provide exciting upside potential – including a Pre-Salt target, which is analogous to two recent discoveries. The operator, Petrobras, is highly experienced, and multiple production options are available through nearby infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Shell’s partner in so much of what it has done in the North Sea, ExxonMobil, is offering a Madagascar farm-out opportunity. Up to 20% of the Ampasindava block, located in the Majunga basin is up for grabs.

Recently acquired 2D seismic data has revealed large structures. Water depths range from shallow marine to deepwater. Nearby outcrops indicate reservoir, seal, and source prone intervals. The online data room opened last month and offers are due by November 2, 2007.

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