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Lloyds List: Chevron and Shell line up two new fixed platforms in North Sea

By: First Mariner oil is planned for 2009 while Barbara and Phyllis fields may involve a joint project, writes Martyn Wingrove, Lloyds List
Published: Oct 03, 2006

CHEVRON and Shell could be installing fixed production platforms on two central North Sea projects in the next two years as oil companies push forward with oil and gas developments.

US oil major Chevron is planning to develop the Mariner heavy oil field in UK block 9’11 by the end of 2009 with a fixed platform and tanker loading facilities.

Shell and partners ExxonMobil and Dana Petroleum are working to develop the Barbara and Phyllis gas-condensate fields in the central sector, potentially with a single fixed platform.

According to Chevron’s partner in Mariner, Nautical Petroleum, the field development plan is likely to be submitted to the Department of Trade and Industry next year with first oil planned for 2009.

Nautical’s chief executive Steve Jenkins said Chevron was close to selecting the field’s development solution and could begin front end engineering and design work early next year.

The California-based oil major has been considering developing heavy crudes at Mariner with floating production systems including ships and Sevan’s stabilised platform design, but is likely to go for a fixed platform instead.

It is thought the need for dry wellheads and plenty of downhole hardware, plus high rig charter rates, are pushing Chevron into choosing a platform with its own drilling package, but there may still be room for a FPSO vessel for processing the crude.

This is how Chevron has developed the Captain heavy oil field in the Outer Moray Firth, with wellhead platforms linked to a FPSO. Captain is currently one of the UK’s top oil producers.

Mr Jenkins said it was important to be able to drill the wells from the platform and store the crude ready to transport it by tanker, although a pipeline has not been ruled out.

‘Mariner has gross reserves of 82m barrels and upside of contingent resources of 51m barrels,’ said Mr Jenkins.

‘The field is highly appraised with 16 well penetrations and a horizontal test well proves deliverability.’

Mariner is one of the UK’s largest undeveloped discoveries and the king in Nautical’s portfolio, but the London-listed independent has plans to appraise and develop other heavy oil structures.

In 2007 it plans to drill three wells in the North Sea, including an appraisal on the Kraken field, one on the Bluebeard discoveries and an exploration probe on Mermaid that are both close to Mariner.

Meanwhile, Dana Petroleum said progress has been made on developing the Barbara and Phyllis fields in quadrant 23 with discussions under way with BP to export condensate and gas resources.

‘On Barbara we are working closely with Shell and ExxonMobil on a joint development with Phyllis and we have moved a long way forward,’ said Dana’s technical and commercial director Stuart Paton. ‘We are working on early concepts and in discussions with BP for gas to go through the Cats pipeline and liquids to go via Forties.’

He said his preferred option would include installing a platform close to the pipelines that link the Lomond field to the Everest platform, both operated by BP.

Other options include subsea wells tied back to the Everest or Marnock production platforms, but this would include higher tariffs and significant modification work.

Mr Paton said the gas reserves of both fields were around 200bn to 250 bn cu ft, plus there were significant liquids.

Dana has other developments in the pipeline in the North Sea to help boost its production levels to 40,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day by the end of next year.

In the first quarter of 2007, Dana will gain new production when RWE Dea’s Cavendish platform and Talisman’s Enoch field come on stream. Development drilling on Cavendish has started using the Al White jack-up rig, said Mr Paton. Also in the southern sector, Dana will be involved in the Babbage, Monkwell and Gunn developments close to the Ravenspurn and Cleeton platforms. Dana is also Venture’s partner in the greater Kittiwake area where there are plans to develop several discoveries.

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