CNOOC makes new discovery in UK North Sea

CNOOC Limited has made a new discovery on the Glengorm prospect, located in offshore UK Central North Sea.

The Glengorm discovery is located in License P2215 with a water depth of approximately 86 meters. As reported by Offshore Energy Today in August 2018, Borr Drilling’s jack-up, the Prospector 5, was towed to the Glengorm field on the UKCS.

The rig was scheduled to begin work on August 20 and the drilling operations were to last 146 days.

On Tuesday, January 29 CNOOC said that the exploration well Glengorm was drilled to a total depth of 5,056 meters and encountered net gas and condensate pay zones with a total thickness of 37.6 meters.

Xie Yuhong, Executive Vice President of the Company commented, “Glengorm discovery demonstrates the great exploration potential of License P2215. We are looking forward to further appraisal.”

CNOOC Petroleum Europe Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CNOOC Limited, is the operator of License P2215, holding a 50% interest. Total E&P UK North Sea holds a 25% interest and Euroil, a wholly owned subsidiary of Edison Esplorazione e Produzione SpA, holds a 25% interest.

Total also confirmed the discovery on Tuesday. The French company said that recoverable resources are estimated close to 250 million barrels of oil equivalent. Further drilling and testing will be carried out to appraise resources and the productivity of the reservoir.

Kevin McLachlan, Senior Vice President Exploration at Total, said: “Following the recent Glendronach discovery, West of Shetland in the U.K., Glengorm is another great success for Total in the North Sea, with results at the top end of expectations and a high condensate yield in addition to the gas.”

He added: “Our strong position in the region will enable us to leverage existing infrastructures nearby and optimize the development of this discovery.”

According to Total, the discovery is located in water depth of about 80 meters, close to existing infrastructures operated by Total and offering tie-back possibilities, such as the Elgin-Franklin platform and the Culzean project, scheduled to start production this year. It also presents some upside potential with several other prospects already identified on the same block.

Largest UK gas find since 2008

Kevin Swann, a senior analyst with Wood Mackenzie’s North Sea upstream team, said that the Glengorm discovery, with its 250 million boe, was the largest gas discovery in the UK since Culzean in 2008.

Swann said: “There is a lot of hype around frontier areas like West of Shetland, where Total discovered the Glendronach field last year. But Glengorm is in in the Central North Sea, and this find shows there is still life in some of the more mature UK waters.”

The gas at Glengorm is subject to very high pressures and temperatures (HP/HT), which makes it more challenging and costlier to develop. But with other HP/HT fields in the vicinity, such as Elgin/Franklin and Culzean, WoodMac stated that these could be used as tie-back hosts.

“This was third time lucky for CNOOC at Glengorm. Technical problems saw it try and fail to drill the prospect twice in 2017, so persistence has paid off. This is a good start to what could prove to be a pivotal year for UK exploration with several high impact wells in the plan,” Swann added.

Andrew Latham, vice president of Global Exploration, added: “Exploration industry returns averaging 13% in 2018 were the highest in over a decade, driven by lower costs and a focus on drilling prospects with a straightforward route to commercialization in the event of success.

“Glengorm fits this revitalized exploration model perfectly. It looks to be a valuable discovery that should help sustain the industry’s profitability into 2019.”

UK’s Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) welcomed CNOOC’s discovery announcement.

OGA Chief Executive, Dr Andy Samuel, said: “This is very exciting news; Glengorm was first mapped as a prospect around 20 years ago and it is great to see Cnooc taking up the exploration opportunity and completing a difficult high-pressure, high-temperature exploration well. Initial results show that Glengorm could be one of the biggest finds in the UKCS in recent years, possibly the biggest since the Culzean gas field was discovered eleven years ago.”

“This underlines the considerable potential of the UKCS. Our official estimate is that there still remains between 10 and 20 billion barrels plus to be recovered, so there is every chance of yet more significant finds, provided industry can increase exploration drilling and capitalise on the real value to be had here in the UK.”

OGA Head of Exploration & New Ventures, Dr Nick Richardson, said: “The North Sea has proven once again that it is a world-class petroleum basin, and its exploration history is a long way from being over. Those companies that have a bullish attitude and have kept the faith in the UK’s oil and gas sector’s fundamentals will continue to reap the rewards that others have missed.

“If industry can intensify its exploration activity by maturing prospects through sound technical evaluations to active drilling, whilst maintaining the UKs now world-class technical success rates and low finding costs, it will deliver increased value from the significant remaining potential in the basin.”

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