BP brings on stream first oil & gas tie-back to its UK North Sea hub in 20 years

UK-headquartered energy giant BP has started production from a field in UK waters, which was developed by Neptune Energy and connected to the oil major’s 25-year-old Eastern Trough Area Project (ETAP) hub in the North Sea, reusing some of the existing subsea infrastructure. This is the first tie-back to the ETAP hub in two decades and supports BP’s strategy of investing in today’s energy systems while simultaneously investing in the energy transition.

ETAP facility in the North Sea; Source: BP

According to BP, the production from the Seagull oil and gas field in the UK North Sea has started, boosting energy supplies, supporting the supply chain and jobs, and underpinning continued production from an offshore facility that has been operating for 25 years. The field has been developed by Neptune Energy as a subsea tie-back to the BP-operated ETAP central processing facility (CPF) in the central North Sea, around 140 miles east of Aberdeen. The project supported 800 jobs through the development phase.

Doris Reiter, Senior Vice President, BP North Sea, commented: “BP has been safely operating in the North Sea for nearly 60 years, delivering a reliable flow of energy, supporting thousands of jobs and a world-class supply chain. We plan to keep doing this by investing in our existing oil and gas infrastructure, like at ETAP, which has been a cornerstone of our North Sea portfolio for a quarter of a century. The start-up of Seagull is a fantastic milestone that demonstrates how BP is investing in today’s energy system and, at the same time, investing in the energy transition.”

Furthermore, the UK oil major elaborates that Seagull, which is the first tie-back to the ETAP hub in 20 years – located 10 miles south of the ETAP CPF – is a four-well development. The production is delivered via a new three-mile subsea pipeline which connects to an existing pipeline system. A new ten-mile umbilical has been installed, linking the ETAP CPF to the Seagull field, providing control, power, and communications services between the surface and the seafloor.  

Alan Muirhead, UK Country Director, Neptune Energy, remarked: “Seagull is an excellent example of what can be achieved through close collaboration. From the beginning, the partners have taken an innovative approach to ensure we can collectively maximize the recovery of domestic energy resources while extending the life of existing subsea infrastructure to reduce development costs.”  

BP underlines that Seagull sustains continued production through the ETAP CPF, which supports 350 full-time jobs – 270 offshore and 80 onshore. Oil from Seagull is exported through the Forties Pipeline System to Grangemouth in central Scotland and gas to Teesside via the Central Area Transmission System. The new field is expected to produce around 50,000 barrels of oil equivalent gross per day at peak production.

“A key focus for BP in the North Sea is to identify projects which can be developed efficiently using existing infrastructure. Seagull is a great example of this, and my thanks go to the committed teams at BP, our joint venture partners and supply chain colleagues who worked so hard to safely deliver this important project,” added Reiter.

With a 50% stake in Seagull, BP operates the production phase of the development while Neptune and JAPEX hold the remaining 35% and 15% interest in the field. The ETAP hub, which came online in July 1998, was initially estimated to have a production life of 20-25 years, with decommissioning predicted to begin in 2023. A $1 billion investment in 2015 secured its future into the 2030s.  

BP operates all the ETAP fields –  Machar, Madoes, Mirren, Monan, Marnock, Mungo, and Seagull –  which produce through the ETAP CPF. Additionally, Murlach, a future tie-back to the ETAP CPF, received government and regulatory approval in September 2023 with production expected in 2025. 

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Tomomi Yamada, Managing Executive Officer at JAPEX, said: “JAPEX is truly delighted with the safe and successful start-up of the Seagull field. We believe this commencement in production will benefit our business expansion strategy in the North Sea and realize the significant potential of the UK Continental Shelf. It is our pleasure to strengthen our partnership with BP and Neptune through the project.”