FPSO Western Isles; Source: NEO Energy

Apollo snaps up ‘critical’ FEED work for North Sea oil project

Scotland-headquartered Apollo Engineering Consultants Limited has secured a contract with NEO Energy for a front-end engineering design (FEED) study, which will support the planned redevelopment of an oil project – said to be the third largest pre-development field on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS).

FPSO Western Isles; Source: NEO Energy

According to Apollo, the FEED study, which is set to support up to 40 staff, will play “a pivotal role” in NEO Energy’s planned redevelopment project in the Greater Buchan Area (GBA), which entails the repurposing and redeployment of an existing floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) vessel.

The FEED study will cover asset repairs and modifications for the FPSO Western Isles, which has been chosen for a new production hub located at the Buchan field. The study also encompasses late-life extension procedures, from a process and marine perspective.

In addition, Apollo reveals there is a requirement for complex electrical infrastructure to be integrated into the vessel, ensuring the FPSO is electrification-ready and can accept power from renewable sources, propelling the asset’s long-term sustainable performance and alignment with emission reduction targets set out in the North Sea Transition Deal and the UK government’s Net Zero Strategy.

Thanks to the upgrades, the FPSO will have the potential to be connected to one of the anticipated third-party floating wind power developments that are intended to be located in close proximity to the GBA, following the recent Innovation and Targeted Oil & Gas (INTOG) license awards made by Crown Estate Scotland. 

Richard Bell, Managing Director of Apollo, commented: “We are pleased to secure this contract from NEO Energy and look forward to working in partnership to deliver this critical FEED study. The contract underpins the competency and quality of the engineering team at Apollo. This is a unique and exciting project, with the aim of repurposing and redeploying an existing asset with the latest technology and innovative infrastructure.”

This comes a day after Jersey Oil & Gas inked a deal to sell a partial stake in the NEO Energy-operated GBA oil project in the UK North Sea to Serica Energy. The farm-out deal came ahead of the submission of the project’s field development plan (FDP), enabling Serica to take part in the redevelopment project and other potential developments near it.

Following completion, the partners in the GBA will be NEO Energy (50%, operator), Serica Energy (UK) Limited (30%), and JOG (20%). The GBA encompasses several oil and gas accumulations some 150 km north-east of Aberdeen, in the Outer Moray Firth, and the largest of these accumulations is the Buchan field which produced for over thirty years, ceasing production in 2017 owing to the end of the useable life of the floating production facility.

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Located in the Central North Sea, the GBA project covers blocks that contain the Buchan oil field and J2 oil discovery in the P2498 blocks 20/5a, 20/5e, and 21/1a, along with the P2170 license blocks 20/5b and 21/1d, which include the Verbier oil discovery and other exploration prospects. This project envisions a phased development involving the redevelopment of the Buchan field in Phase 1 and the possible development of the J2 and Verbier discoveries in Phase 2.

The project will be developed through the use of up to five subsea production wells, supported by two water injection wells tied back to the FPSO, which will be modified to be electrification-ready prior to redeployment to the field. There are other discoveries and prospects in close proximity that might provide additional tie-back opportunities to the FPSO. 

The first production is currently slated for late 2026 and peak production rates are expected to be around 35,000 barrels per day. The gross development costs estimated to be in the order of £850-950 million are expected to qualify for tax relief at a rate of approximately 91% under the current fiscal terms, bringing into production over 70 million barrels of oil equivalent (95% oil).