Fossil energy – Production
BP has agreed a partnership with Baker Hughes and Norway’s Oldfjell Drilling to boost output at the 7 billion-barrel Clair heavy oil field in the UK West of Shetland area, which has hit production difficulties.
In a statement, BP said the partnership would bring the latest technology and expertise to bear on drilling and well completion at what it considers the UK’s largest oil field, with an initial goal of boosting annual output from the latest phase of the project, Clair Ridge, by 15%.
The $10 billion Clair Ridge project came online in November 2018 with a peak production target of 120,000 b/d and an anticipated design-life of 40 years, but output was barely a third of the targeted level last year.
The latest agreement, initially with a five-year span, “aims to improve production across Clair, initially targeting a 15% increase in average annual production on Clair Ridge, the second phase development of the field. This will be achieved through drilling the best quality wells safely and more efficiently and harnessing the skills and expertise of each company in a single collaborative team,” BP said, adding the agreement shared both risk and reward.
Production problems at Clair were flagged in March by a partner at the field, Chrysaor, which has subsequently become Harbour Energy. Despite the large volume of resources at Clair, they are spread out over a large area and the reservoir is viewed as unusually challenging. Chrysaor said the nine Clair Ridge wells drilled so far had been producing “lower than their pre-drill expectations and three have seen water breakthrough.” Chrysaor also noted problems at the other main BP-operated West of Shetland field, Schiehallion.
Clair Ridge production amounted to around 38,000 b/d last year, barely a third of the peak rate targeted, while overall production from the field amounted to around 69,000 b/d, including the earlier initial phase, according to Oil & Gas Authority data.
The crude oil is heavier than typical North Sea light sweet grades, with an API gravity of 23.5, and loads at the Sullom Voe terminal in the Shetland Islands. It is not part of the Platts Dated Brent benchmark.
BP senior vice president for the North Sea Emeka Emembolu said: “Maximizing the Clair field’s 7 billion-barrel potential safely and efficiently is crucial to ensuring a sustainable future for our existing and future Clair developments. We believe the collaborative approach of the Clair alliance, where all parties work towards and are rewarded by achieving this common goal, is fundamental to achieving this and will be crucial in our mission to become the best oil and gas business we can in the North Sea.”