Photo: Maersk Resilient jack-up rig; Source: Maersk Drillin

Serica frustrated as Columbus well expected to take longer and cost more

UK oil and gas company Serica Energy is frustrated after encountering difficulties while drilling its Columbus well in the UK North Sea.

Columbus map - Serica
Columbus map; Source: Serica

As a result of additional operations, the Columbus well will take longer and cost more than expected, but will not affect the timing of the first production.

The Columbus development well was spudded in mid-March and drilled, as planned, to a total measured depth of 17,600ft. The well is being drilled using a Maersk Drilling-owned jack-up rig, the Maersk Resilient.

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Serica informed on Tuesday that a 5,900ft horizontal section was drilled through the reservoir formations of the upper Forties and encountered a sequence of sands and shales, in line with pre-drill expectations.

According to Serica, the well requires sand screens to be installed to prevent fine particles being produced; difficulties were encountered while running the screens and it was ultimately not possible to install them.

As a result, the reservoir section of the well will be side-tracked and re-drilled, using data collected during initial drilling to optimise its trajectory and avoid the difficulties encountered running the screens in the original well.

The additional operations are expected to take around 3-4 weeks at a net cost to Serica of around £3 million ($4.2 million). These operations are not expected to affect the timing of production start-up which is still expected during 4Q 2021.

Maersk Resilient jack-up rig - Serica Energy
Maersk Resilient jack-up rig; Source: Serica Energy

Separately, Serica said that the R3 well has now been cleared of all equipment installed when it was originally completed in 2005. Reservoir access has been regained thus allowing new completion equipment to be run in preparation for production.

The new completion is currently being installed prior to performing a flow test on the well, which is expected to be carried out in June. A diving support vessel (DSV) has been contracted to install the subsea control equipment required so the well can start producing in 3Q 2021.

Rhum is a gas condensate field producing from two subsea wells, R1 and R2, tied into the Bruce facilities through a 44-kilometre pipeline. The third well, R3, requires intervention work before it can be brought online.

Mitch Flegg, Chief Executive of Serica Energy, commented: “Whilst frustrating, the additional operations on Columbus are not expected to affect the timing of first production and the economic returns of the project remain very attractive for the company”.