Photo: Noble Hans Deul rig; Source: IOG

IOG’s North Sea project still on track for first gas after repairs on Noble rig

UK company IOG plc expects to continue working on the Southwark field in the UK North Sea by the beginning of December 2021 following repairs on a Noble Corporation-owned rig with expectations for the first gas remaining unchanged.

In October 2021, the Noble Hans Deul jack-up rig mobilised from the Blythe field across to Southwark, the third of the Phase 1 fields after Elgood and Blythe, where it would spud the next production well through the Southwark platform. However, during routine jacking operations after arriving at the field, an issue was identified on one of the legs of the rig and the installation process was halted.

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The rig owner launched an investigation into the issue and the rig was taken to port to undertake any necessary assessments and repairs.

In an update on Monday, IOG said it continued to target the delivery of first gas from the Saturn Banks Project Phase 1 by the end of 4Q 2021, subject to completion of the remaining onshore scope.

Furthermore, the Noble Hans Deul rig owner has progressed investigation and repair works of the rig leg at Dundee port to allow safe resumption of Phase 1 drilling. Repair operations have required equipment and personnel to be mobilised from the Middle East and Asia. The rig is expected to re-mobilise to Southwark by the first week of December, subject to weather, and Southwark first gas remains on track for 2Q 2022.

According to IOG, all permits are in place to start Southwark drilling and the IOG drilling and subsurface teams have used the downtime to accelerate planning of the 2022 appraisal well campaign.

The key subsea, umbilicals, risers, and flowlines (SURF) and hook up and commissioning (HUC) scopes have now been completed in preparation for Blythe and Elgood first gas.

These include connection of the Blythe 12″ pipeline and Elgood 6″ pipeline to the Blythe platform risers and leak testing and dewatering of both pipelines; fabrication and installation of the 24″ valve skid at the Saturn Banks tie-in point; tie-in of the shoreward section of the 24″ Saturn Banks pipeline section at Bacton; hook-up of the Blythe and Elgood wells and system commissioning.

As explained by IOG, the use of a walk to work vessel has enabled longer shift durations and minimised the need for helicopter flights.

Blythe Walk to Work Campaign (Bibby Wavemaster) - IOG
Blythe Walk to Work Campaign (Bibby Wavemaster); Source: IOG

The successful leak testing and dewatering of the 24″ pipeline and valve skid has now confirmed the integrity of the production system from the onshore Saturn Banks Reception Facilities (SBRF) at Bacton to the Blythe platform and the Elgood subsea well. Once the onshore scope is finished, along with final systems testing between on and offshore, nitrogen venting and back gassing of the pipelines will enable the start-up of the Blythe and Elgood wells in quick succession.

At the SBRF, an expanded team has been progressing refurbishment activities. IOG is co-operating closely with Perenco and the onshore contractors to expedite completion of intra-terminal pipework, testing of telecoms & control systems, installation of the emergency vent stack, in order to enable a safe and reliable start-up at the earliest feasible time. 

More work for Noble rig

Furthermore, planning and contracting is underway for the two 2022 appraisal wells at Kelham North / Kelham Central (P2442: Block 53/1b) and Goddard (P2342: Block 48/11c and 12b), respectively.

The company has exercised its contract option to drill these wells in succession with the Noble Hans Deul rig after the second Southwark well, on the same competitive day rate as the Phase 1 wells.

Petrofac has been appointed Well Operator for the two appraisal wells and pre-drill site surveys are being planned for 1Q 2022. In parallel, analysis of reservoir and production data from the Southwark 1 and 2 wells will inform an optimal Southwark 3 well plan.

Andrew Hockey, CEO of IOG, commented: “The offshore subsea and hook-up scopes for the Blythe and Elgood fields are now complete. We continue to work closely with Bacton terminal operator Perenco and an enlarged workforce to complete the reception facilities recommissioning and deliver first gas in 4Q, albeit this may be challenging.

“Meanwhile, we expect the Noble Hans Deul rig to re-mobilise to Southwark in early December once it has been re-certified for safe operation, with Southwark first gas still on track for Q2 2022.

“Phase 1 looks set to capitalise on very strong gas prices whilst also providing timely new low carbon intensity UK domestic gas production.”