Noble Hans Deul jack-up rig; Source: Noble Corporation

Shelf Drilling rig spins the drill bit at UK North Sea well

UK-headquartered IOG plc has started drilling the second Blythe production well, as part of the Saturn Banks Project – Phase 1 in the UK Southern North Sea. The drilling operations are being carried out by one of Shelf Drilling’s jack-up rigs.

Noble Hans Deul jack-up rig; Source: Noble Corporation

IOG disclosed on Monday, 6 March 2023, that the Blythe H2 well was spudded on Sunday, 5 March 2023 with Shelf Drilling’s Noble Hans Deul jack-up drilling rig (to be renamed Shelf Perseverance). This rig is under contract with IOG, thanks to a deal signed in 2020 while the rig was still part of Noble’s fleet. As with the firm’s previous development wells, Petrofac is the designated well operator.

Rupert Newall, CEO of IOG, commented: “The Blythe H2 well has the potential to significantly enhance our current production levels, reduce water production into the pipeline and minimise associated opex. It also has fast payback potential and will enable us to boost cash flow from mid-2023.”

“I would like to thank our team for their outstanding efforts in accelerating this well, securing all 36 permits required and getting the rig moved across to the Blythe platform efficiently and ahead of plan. This is the first well that has been designed, engineered and planned by our new IOG team working with our key contractors Shelf, Petrofac and ODE. We are very focused on ensuring safe, efficient and successful execution.”

According to IOG, the H2 well is expected to take approximately three months to drill, complete and hook-up, subject to the usual offshore operational risks to scheduling. The UK player’s plans factor in certain H1 production shut-in periods, which are required for full compliance with offshore safety regulations.

In line with this, the H1 well was taken offline – under the Blythe platform safety case – on Sunday, 26 February 2023, to facilitate safe rig move, interfacing and top hole drilling operations. An estimated total of 12 days of planned outages in March will result in lower average production this month. In addition, a shorter planned outage will be required on completion of the H2 well to enable safe hook-up for production.

“In parallel, we are progressing our detailed post-A2 technical evaluation of Southwark and other key assets in the portfolio in order to optimise our plans beyond this well,” added Newall.

As disclosed in January 2023, well-testing and clean-up process at the Southwark A2 well failed to meet expectations. These wells are part of the IOG-operated Saturn Banks Project – Phase 1 – sanctioned in October 2019 – covering BlytheElgood, and Southwark fields in the UK Southern North Sea.

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The first two fields – Blythe and Elgood – were brought on stream in mid-March 2022. IOG holds a 50 per cent stake in this project and its partner CalEnergy Resources holds the remaining 50 per cent.