Illustration; Source: Shell

Shell goes on rig selection quest with site survey work in full swing ahead of drilling ops in North Sea

UK-headquartered energy giant Shell is engaged in a rig selection and contracting process for a two-well drilling campaign in 2024 while site survey works associated with this exploration program in the North Sea are still ongoing.

Illustration; Source: Shell

An update confirming that the preparatory works for Shell’s Selene and Pensacola wells, due to be drilled in 2024, were progressing according to plan came from the oil major’s partner, Deltic Energy. A positive well investment decision for Selene was made in July 2022. After getting approval from the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), the P2437 license moved into the next phase and Shell also assumed operatorship of the license as part of the process of moving into the drilling phase.

The first of the two wells to be drilled in 2024 is an exploration well on the Selene gas prospect. Following the completion of the initial geophysical site survey on Selene during the summer, the data acquired is being used to inform the geotechnical survey which is due to start in the first half of December 2023. According to Deltic, the site surveys are designed to ensure the safe installation of the rig at the selected well location, representing another key step on the path to drilling this high-impact, low-risk prospect.

The Selene prospect is considered to be one of the largest unappraised structures in the Leman Sandstone fairway of the Southern Gas Basin and Shell’s partner estimates Selene to contain gross P50 prospective resources of 318 bcf of gas – P90 to P10 range of 132 to 581 bcf – with a geological chance of success of 70%. Following completion of the well design process, Deltic confirms that critical long lead items including casing have been identified and procurement processes are advanced, thus, Selene remains on track to be drilled in 3Q 2024.

At the start of 2023, Shell made – what it deemed to be – a “transformational gas discovery at the Pensacola gas prospect in license P2252 in the Southern North Sea in February 2023, which is said to contain P50 estimated ultimate recovery of 302 BCF of gas, of which 90 BCF is net to Deltic. With this outcome, Pensacola is perceived to be the largest natural gas discovery in the North Sea in over a decade. Therefore, JV partners have been working to develop an appraisal strategy for the Pensacola discovery.

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“Having made a significant discovery with its first well at Pensacola, the company is excited about drilling its next exploration well at Selene, which has the potential to add another significant discovery to Deltic’s asset base. Accordingly, we look forward to providing further updates as we progress through the planning phase towards the commencement of operations on both Selene and Pensacola,” outlined Deltic. 

While the JV partners are expected to formalize a positive well investment decision about an appraisal well in December 2023, Deltic highlights that the planning for the appraisal of the Pensacola discovery is well advanced. Subject to regulatory approvals, the drilling of the appraisal well on this prospect remains on track to be spud after the Selene well in late 2024.

The company emphasizes that site survey works focused on the Pensacola appraisal well location are due to be carried out in the first half of 2024 while the rig tendering process for Selene and Pensacola is ongoing.

Graham Swindells, Chief Executive of Deltic Energy, commented: “Plans for the drilling program for Selene and Pensacola are progressing well and we are working closely with our partners to advance and refine those, whilst also progressing options within our portfolio to realize value.”