Photo: Noble Hans Deul; Source: IOG plc

Noble rig gearing up for IOG well after two-month hiatus but first gas late

Following a two-month drilling hiatus over an issue with a Noble Corporation-owned rig, UK company IOG plc is preparing to spud the first well in the Southwark field located in the North Sea by the end of this week. However, the first gas from Southwark has been delayed to mid-2022.

Blythe, Elgood, and Southwark fields – in the UK Southern North Sea – are part of the IOG-operated Saturn Banks Project – Phase 1, which was sanctioned in October 2019. IOG holds 50 per cent and its partner CalEnergy Resources holds the other 50 per cent interest.

The issue on one of the legs of Noble Hans Deul jack-up rig was found in October 2021, resulting in an operation halt. This happened following the completion of the Blythe production well and after the rig mobilised to Southwark where it was supposed to spud the production well through the platform.

The issue was identified during routine jacking operations after arriving at the Southwark field and the installation process was halted. The rig was then taken to a port for repairs and IOG expected to continue working on the Southwark field by the beginning of December 2021 with expectations for the Southwark first gas in 2Q 2022 remaining unchanged at that point.

Related Article

As informed by IOG on Tuesday, the repaired rig on 3 December re-mobilised from Dundee back to Southwark where it arrived on 9 December and is expected to spud the first Southwark development well by the end of this week.

However, due to the two-month drilling hiatus, IOG said that the first gas at Southwark is expected by mid-2022 after the planned installation in 1Q of the 6km Saturn Banks pipeline extension to the Southwark platform. The rig is then scheduled to move on to drill the Goddard and Kelham North/Central appraisal wells while analysis of reservoir and production data from Southwark wells 1 and 2 will inform an optimal Southwark 3 well plan.

Andrew Hockey, CEO of IOG, commented: “I look forward to safe and successful execution of the Southwark wells, the first of which is expected to spud in the next week. Although significant further progress has been achieved at Bacton, final pre-first gas commissioning activities are now expected to carry over into the early weeks of 2022.”

Saturn Banks reception facilities & Phase 1 first gas

At Bacton, IOG is working proactively with terminal operator Perenco and on-site contractors to complete the outstanding Saturn Banks reception facilities recommissioning work to bring Phase 1 gas onstream.

According to IOG, progress has continued despite some difficult recent weather conditions. The new 45-metre emergency vent stack is now installed, electrical and instrumentation activities are ramping up, and powering up and testing of onshore systems is starting imminently.

The Saturn Banks reception facilities are now expected to be ready to receive production in the early weeks of 2022. The final steps to first gas involve commissioning of end-to-end control and communications systems and backgassing of the pipeline system before opening up the Blythe and Elgood wells in quick succession.

IOG eyes Phase 2 sanction

IOG is also planning to sanction another development as part of the Saturn Banks project Phase 2. The schedule for concept selection and sanction for the Nailsworth development is planned to be submitted to the Oil and Gas Authority this month.

Nailsworth lies 19km northwest of the Southwark field in water depths of 25-40 metres and is expected to be the first Phase 2 field to be developed. Following the interpretation of reprocessed 3D seismic, the company is building new static and dynamic subsurface models to refine its management estimated gross recoverable gas of 64/105/156 billion cubic feet (Bcfe).

Nailsworth gas is expected to be evacuated via the Southwark platform and Saturn Banks Pipeline System and IOG and its partner CalEnergy are assessing the most economically and environmentally attractive concept.

When it comes to other assets in its portfolio, IOG has decided not to pursue an extension to P2085 (Harvey) licence beyond its expiry date of 19 December 2021 as the company sees more material, higher-return opportunities than Harvey to allocate its capital and resources.