ETAP facility in the North Sea; Source: BP

BP cheers stamp of approval for oil & gas project in North Sea

UK-headquartered energy giant BP has received the green light from Britain’s government to proceed with its proposed development of an oil and gas field in the UK sector of the North Sea.

ETAP facility in the North Sea; Source: BP

BP’s Murlach oil and gas field development, which has now gained the North Sea Transition Authority’s approval, is a new project to redevelop the field formerly known as Skua. It lies within UKCS Block 22/24h of the central North Sea, approximately 203 km east of the Aberdeenshire coastline, Scotland. The field is located about 27 km from the UK/Norway median line in a water depth of around 93 to 95 m.

The proposed Murlach field project is a two-production well subsea tie-back development, which entails the drilling of two production wells tied back to a new manifold, installation of a 7 km gas lift flowline from the existing Eastern Trough Area Project (ETAP) platform to the new Murlach manifold and tie-ins to the repurposed Heron A production flowline, Heron to Seagull wash water flowline system and existing Seagull umbilical.

The produced fluids will be processed at the ETAP central processing facility before onward export via the Forties Pipeline System and Central Area Transmission System. The subsea facility installation and first drilling operations are currently due to start at the Murlach field in 2024. The first oil is expected in 2025 and the field life is estimated to be 11 years.

Doris Reiter, Senior Vice President North Sea at BP, commented: “Delighted to share we have received Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, North Sea Transition Authority approval to progress the Murlach field, which demonstrates BP’s strategy in action – investing in today’s energy systems and – not or – investing in the energy transition. We’ve been in the North Sea for close to six decades, and I’m extremely passionate about its remaining oil and gas potential now, and well into the future.

“We’re supporting energy security by focusing on oil and gas opportunities around our portfolio that can be developed through established production facilities, with lower operational emissions. Murlach is a great example of that. It will be connected to the ETAP (Eastern Trough Area Project) hub that’s been operating in the central North Sea for 25 years.

“In fact, Murlach is a redevelopment of a field that was previously in production in the early 2000s and this project will benefit from the reuse of some existing subsea infrastructure in the area. The fantastic BP team behind this project looks forward to working with our joint venture partner and the supply chain, to bring this field into production.”

Location of the Murlach field. Source: BP

ETAP is an integrated development of seven different reservoirs with six separate fields operated by BP. These are Marnock, Machar, Madoes, Mungo, Monan and Mirren while one field, Seagull, is currently operated by Neptune E&P UK Limited and is expected to come online in 2023. The ETAP CPF is a fixed manned installation that lies in UKCS Block 22/24a over the Marnock field located about 207 km east of the Aberdeenshire coastline, Scotland, and approximately 35 km from the UK/Norway median line. The Murlach field is located around 7 km south of the ETAP CPF.

While the drilling of wells is slated for the period from 1Q 2024 to 4Q 2024, subsea installation is planned from 3Q 2024 to 4Q 2024 while well tie-in and commissioning is scheduled for 1Q 2025. In line with this timeline, the first production is anticipated in 2Q 2025.

Mike Tholen, OEUK sustainability and policy director, remarked: “The approval of Murlach is good news for the UK’s economy. Every new project approved in UK waters will help us manage our reliance on imported energy as North Sea production declines and renewables ramp up – providing a strong basis for us to build a homegrown energy future in the UK, for the UK.

“As we build that future, there’s no simple choice between oil and gas or renewables, the reality is we will need both. By the mid-2030s oil and gas will still provide for 50 per cent of our energy needs, so it’s far better for British jobs, the economy, and our energy security if we meet these needs through our own resources.”

BP is actively working on building up its hydrocarbon portfolio alongside its decarbonisation and green transition plans. To this end, the energy giant handed out a new contract and extension to Valaris for a drillship and a jack-up rig, which will carry out drilling operations in Brazil and Indonesia, respectively.