Photo: Pilot field development plan; Source: Orcadian Energy

Orcadian pursuing approval of North Sea field development plan

Oil and gas development company Orcadian Energy has submitted a draft field development plan for the Pilot oilfield located in the UK North Sea to the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA). Under the plan, the field will be developed with an FPSO vessel and a pair of wellhead platforms with power provided by a floating wind turbine.

Pilot field development plan - North Sea - Orcadian
Pilot field development plan; Source: Orcadian Energy

In addition, a structured farm-out process has been initiated for the Pilot oilfield, Orcadian informed on Monday. The oilfield is located in North Sea licence P2244 Block 21/27a where Orcadian is the operator with a 100 per cent interest. It is the largest oilfield in the company’s portfolio.

Orcadian has 79MMbbls of 2P reserves in the Pilot oilfield and the field development plan (FDP) builds upon work done in the concept select process which culminated in NSTA sending a “letter of no objection” to the low-emissions concept selected by Orcadian, as announced on 1 December last year.

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Orcadian’s proposed, low emissions FDP for Pilot is based upon a floating production storage and offloading vessel (FPSO), with thirty-four wells to be drilled by a jack-up rig through a pair of wellhead platforms and provision of power from a floating wind turbine.

According to Orcadian, emissions per barrel produced are expected to be about an eighth of the 2020 North Sea average, and less than half of the lowest emitting oil facility currently operating on the UKCS. On a global basis, this places the Pilot oilfield emissions at the low end of the lowest 5 per cent of global oil production, the UK company explained.

The draft FDP will be discussed and agreed upon between NSTA and Orcadian over the coming months but it cannot be approved until the associated development finance has been finalised. The structured farm-out process, that has been initiated for Pilot, is a key part of that process.

Windfall tax improves economics of farm-in deal

Orcadian also noted that the introduction of the Energy Profits Levy (EPL) by the UK Government last month has radically improved the economics of a farm-in deal for some potential farminees. Whilst the EPL did introduce a further tax on profits from UK oil and gas companies, it also introduced significant investment allowances to encourage oil and gas companies to reinvest their profits to support the economy, jobs, and UK energy security.

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Accordingly, for companies that pay both EPL and UK ring fence corporation tax (a modified form of corporation tax only payable by the UK oil and gas industry), the after-tax cost of development could be reduced by up to 75 per cent when compared with a non-tax paying company. The board believes that this will make an investment in the development of the Pilot oilfield an increasingly attractive opportunity.

Steve Brown, Orcadian’s CEO, said: “Submission of the draft FDP is a further important milestone for the Pilot development and highlights the maturity of the project. Our focus on minimising emissions means that the project will be especially attractive to companies that wish to drive down their emissions intensity whilst the introduction of the investment allowances as part of the Energy Profits Levy will surely incentivise operators to double down on investing in domestic energy security.”