Photo: FPF-1 facility; Source: Ithaca Energy

First oil flows from subsea tie-back in North Sea

North Sea-focused Ithaca Energy has started production from a subsea tie-back to its FPF-1 facility located in the UK North Sea, which was previously expected in 3Q 2022.

Back in 2020, Ithaca Energy applied to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to obtain consent for the development of the Abigail field, formerly known as Hurricane. In addition, the company filed an application with the UK’s Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), later renamed to North Sea Transition Authority, in relation to this field development and submitted the environmental statement for the project.

Ithaca hired the COSL Pioneer sixth-generation harsh environment semi-submersible drilling rig from COSL Drilling Europe at the beginning of October 2021 for operations on the Abigail well and the Captain phase II subsea development.

Come January 2022, the consent for the Abigail field development was received from the North Sea Transition Authority and the field development plan (FDP) and the Environmental Statement (ES) were approved. Thanks to this, the drilling campaign was expected to start in March 2022 and the first oil from the project was scheduled to be achieved in 3Q 2022.

Abigail is a phased subsea development in the North Sea with phase 1 consisting of a single subsea well and subsea tie-back to Ithaca’s FPF-1 facility while phase 2 will include the drilling and tie-in of a second production well.

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Within its results for the third quarter and first nine months of 2022, Ithaca revealed that the first oil from the Abigail subsea tie-back to the FPF-1 floating production unit in the Greater Stella area was achieved in 4Q 2022. The Ithaca-operated Greater Stella Area is located in the heart of the Central Graben area of the Central North Sea, on the UK Continental Shelf. 

Phase 1 of the Abigail development entailed the re-entry and completion of an existing appraisal well as a production well, installation of a new 12-kilometre pipeline system (production, gas lift and service lines), manifold and subsea isolation valve, tied back to the existing FPF-1 installation located in Block 30/06. On the other hand, Phase 2 is contingent on the field’s performance and comprises a second, new, production well and tie-in to the manifold.

Alan Bruce, Ithaca Energy’s Chief Executive Officer, commented: “We continue to execute well on our strategy and during the fourth quarter production commenced from the Abigail field and the first well of the Captain EOR II project came online. I remain very confident in our forward trajectory and we remain on track to deliver our stated targets for the remainder of 2022 and 2023.”

Regarding the Captain Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) Phase l project, Ithaca pointed out that it reached “a significant milestone” in September 2022 of 10 million barrels of oil production through the polymer flood-enhanced oil recovery method. However, the firm also highlighted that the development activity continues with construction in support of the EOR Phase II project and platform drilling operations ongoing.

Ithaca sanctioned the Captain EOR Phase II project in April 2021, as the next phase of development at the Captain field, building on the success of EOR Phase 1. The project is designed to significantly increase hydrocarbon recovery by injecting polymerised water into the reservoir through additional subsea wells, subsea infrastructure, and new topside facilities.

The Captain field was discovered in 1977, in Block 13/22a, located on the edge of the outer Moray Firth. The billion-barrel field achieved its first production in March 1997 – over 20 years ago – thanks to technology developments in horizontal drilling and down-hole pump technology.

Gilad Myerson, Executive Chairman at Ithaca Energy, remarked: “2022 has been a transformational year for Ithaca Energy, with our listing on the London Stock Exchange and the completion of three acquisitions including Siccar Point Energy and the UK assets of Marubeni, positioning the group as one of the largest independent oil and gas companies in the UK.”

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Ithaca achieved production of 68.2 kboe/d, 65 per cent liquids for the period, and averaged production of 71.3 kboe/d in 3Q 2022 while the previously provided guidance ranges were confirmed for currently producing assets on short-term production for 4Q 2022 of 77 – 80 kboe/d and 72 – 80 kboe/d for 2023.

“Following the Chancellor’s recent announcement regarding the increase in the Energy Profit Levy rate and extension of the duration of the levy, we continue to assess the impact of the proposed changes in legislation on our development projects. We expect the new government to work with the industry to encourage the development of large fields that will increase domestic energy supply and long-term security, in line with the British Energy Security Strategy,” added Myerson.