One field dies, another is born

by Tom Morton -

The top news this month from an energy point of view has centred on two things: the end of an era in the North Sea and, potentially, the beginning of a new one in the Atlantic, west of Shetland.

In the North Sea, Shell’s continued decommissioning work on the Brent field saw the removal of the Brent Delta platform topsides, a structure the height of the London Eye which for the last 40 years has operated as a hotel for over 160 staff, a factory, and a processing plant. The deck space of the platform is almost the same size as a football pitch.

At 26,000 tonnes, this was the heaviest lift ever undertaken at sea. The extraordinary vessel Pioneering Seas, the length of six jumbo jets, took just 10 seconds to lift the platform and set off for Hartlepool, where over 97 per cent of the platform will be recycled.

Shetland, as the closest landfall for many of the offshore structures scheduled for decommissioning, will be used as an operating port for some operations and has the quayside space and facilities to carry out decommissioning work too.

Pioneering Seas is the length of six jumbo jets

Meanwhile, hopes of what some are calling ‘a new oil and gas boom’ in the Atlantic west of Shetland received a major boost as the Lancaster Field, operated by small Surrey-based operation Hurricane Energy, was confirmed by independent consultancy RPS, as having recoverable reserves of 500m barrels - a major increase over previous estimates.

It is now thought that the nearby Halifax and Lincoln fields, also Hurricane’s, could offer even more potential. Even at low oil price levels, it is estimated that the reserves in Lancaster could be worth more than £388m.

Dr Robert Trice, Chief Executive of Hurricane, said:

"We are delighted to now have independent verification of the highly material uplift in the resources we have at Lancaster. It is also a landmark for Hurricane to have reserves assigned at the field relating to our planned Early Production System, for which we continue to advance plans, maintaining our target for first oil of H1 2019. We expect to publish competent person reports relating to Halifax and Lincoln later in 2017, which we are confident will be a material addition to our already significant resource base."

The development of the Lancaster, Halifax and Lincoln Fields is likely to involve major maritime traffic through Shetland and considerable use of local harbours and expertise.

Lancaster reserves are now estimated to be worth £388m

Posted in: Oil and Gas