Marine Link
Monday, June 24, 2024

Plans in Progress for New North Sea Wells

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

December 11, 2023

Source: COSL

Source: COSL

Esgian has published its Week 49 Rig Market Roundup highlighting new drilling activity in the North Sea and a new licensing deal in Morocco.

Drilling Activity and Discoveries

Serica Energy is continuing with plans for its four-well drilling campaign in the UK North Sea, scheduled for 2024 and early 2025. The campaign will be carried out using the semisubmersible COSLInnovator. All four wells are production wells. The first well in the campaign will be a sidetrack of an existing well (B1z) on the Bittern field. The spud date is currently expected to be in mid-Q1 of 2024, with the completion expected in about 90 days. The other wells in the campaign are the GE-05 well on Gannet E, the EC well on Guillemot North West, and the EV-02 well on Evelyn.

Serica has also exercised an option to use the 2,460-ft COSLInnovator to drill a fifth well in the campaign, and this may be the development well on the Belinda field. The draft FDP for this project was submitted to the NSTA in September 2023. The semisub is currently working for CNOOC and is scheduled for SPS around the end of the month, after which it will move on to its next contract. Petrofac is managing these well operations on behalf of Serica.

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) has granted Vår Energi a drilling permit for a wildcat well in the Barents Sea off Norway. The well 7219/6-1, targeting Venus prospect, is located in production license 1025 S, which is operated by Vår Energi with Petoro and Equinor participating as partners. Drilling is planned to start in the first quarter of 2024 at the earliest, with a duration of up to 45 days. It will be carried out with the 1,640-ft Transocean Enabler semisub in a water depth of about 399 meters.

Petronas has stated that there have been 19 exploration discoveries and two exploration-appraisal successes offshore Malaysia in 2023, contributing over 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent of new resources. These discoveries include wells operated by Petronas Carigali Sdn Bhd, PTTEP, Shell, and Hibiscus.

Sixteen of these were made in the Sarawak Basin, primarily in the Balingian and West Luconia areas. Three were made in the Northwest Sabah Basin and two in the Malay Basin. Petronas Senior Vice President of Malaysia Petroleum Management Mohamed Firouz Asnan said that the next series of the Malaysia Bid Round would be launched in early 2024, “offering more exploration blocks and discovered resources opportunities to potential investors.”


With the rig tendering process ongoing, Shell is on track to drill the Selene exploration well and the Pensacola appraisal well, both located in the UK Southern North Sea, in 2H 2024. The Selene prospect is situated in the Southern North Sea Licence P2347 and the Pensacola discovery in Licence P2252. Both licenses are operated by Shell, with Deltic Energy participating as a partner.

Preparatory works for both the Selene and Pensacola wells are progressing according to plan. Following completion of the well design process, critical long lead items including casing have been identified, and procurement processes are advanced. Accordingly, Selene remains on track to be drilled in Q3 2024.

The JV is expected to formalize a positive well investment decision in relation to the Pensacola appraisal well in December 2023. Planning for the appraisal of the Pensacola discovery is well advanced and, subject to regulatory approvals, the drilling of the appraisal well on Pensacola remains on track to be drilled after the Selene well in late 2024. Site survey works focused on the Pensacola appraisal well location are due to be carried out in the first half of 2024.

Australia-based Finder Energy has initiated a farmout process to secure an industry partner to fund the drilling of the Whitsun prospect in the UK North Sea. The Whitsun prospect is located within the P2528 Seaward Production Licence in the UK North Sea. Finder holds a 60% interest in P2528 and is the Licence Administrator. The remaining 40% is held by Dana Petroleum, which farmed into the license last year. Finder retained the 60% interest in the license to undertake a secondary farmout with the objective of securing funding for drilling. The current term of P2528 (Phase A) extends to late 2024.

Based on detailed subsurface interpretation of the newly reprocessed Big Buzz 3D, Whitsun has gross mean prospective resources of 150 MMbbl and geological chance of success of 26%. The license is located within the Peterhead Graben, Central North Sea (CNS) immediately south of the Ettrick Sub-basin, which contains the prolific stratigraphic traps of the Buzzard and Golden Eagle fields.

Buzzard is often cited as one of the largest oil discoveries in the modern era in the North Sea, with an estimated 1 billion barrels of oil. The field’s facilities offer potential for a tieback in the event of Whitsun's success. The evaluation of additional prospectivity in P2528 and P2527 on the Big Buzz 3D reprocessed data is ongoing.

Energean has signed partnership agreements to farm into Chariot Limited’s acreage in Morocco, taking a 45% interest in the Lixus license, which includes the Anchois-1 and Anchois-2 discovery wells, and a 37.5% interest in the Rissana license, along with operatorship of both licenses. Completion of the transaction is subject to standard Moroccan regulatory approvals. Chariot will retain a 30% and 37.5% interest in Lixus and Rissana respectively, with ONHYM maintaining a 25% stake in each licence.

An appraisal well in the east of the Anchois field is planned for 2024, targeting an additional 11 Bcm of gross unrisked prospective resource to be commercialized through the Anchois development. Chariot stated that rig contract negotiations are advanced. The well will be used to conduct a drill stem test on the main sands, target additional recoverable resources via a sidetrack and a deepening of the well into previously undrilled sands, and then be retained as a future producer well. Energean and Chariot will expand the development plan for the field, finalize gas sale negotiations and conduct a seismic campaign on the licenses.

As consideration for the interests in the licences, Energean has agreed to a $10 million consideration on closing of the transaction and will carry Chariot for its share of pre-FID cost up to $85 million. This covers the drilling of the appraisal well, other pre-FID costs and up to $7 million of seismic expenditure on the Rissana licence. Another $15 million in cash is contingent on FID being taken on the Anchois Development. Post appraisal well, Energean has the option to increase working interest in the Lixus license by 10% for further considerations. If the option is not exercised, subject to FID, the partners agree to progress the Anchois development with an ownership structure of Energean 45%, Chariot 30% and ONHYM 25%.

Longboat JAPEX Norge has farmed down two exploration licenses on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) through an agreement with Concedo. In PL1182S, the company has farmed down from 30% to 15% in return for a full carry of the Lotus exploration well, up to an agreed cap above the dry well budget, which is expected to spud in Q3 2024. The license lies in the Northern North Sea, 4 km southeast of the recent significant Kveikje discovery, where Longboat JAPEX is a 10% equity partner. Lotus contains gross mean prospective resources of 27 mmboe with further potential upside estimated at 44 mmboe. The chance of success is 54%, with the key risk being hydrocarbon retention.

The Lotus prospect will be drilled using the 3,900-ft semisubmersible Deepsea Yantai during Q3 2024. The license partnership includes DNO Norge (40%, operator) and Aker BP (30%). In PL1049, which contains the Jasmine and Sjøkreps prospects, Longboat JAPEX has farmed down from 40% to 25% in return for Concedo carrying 15% of the company's 2024 exploration expenditure. Sjøkreps is a fault-bounded three-way dip closure at Palaeocene level and has preliminary estimated recoverable volumes ranging between 20 to 300 mmboe (P90-P10) with the main risk being presence and quality of reservoir. The Jasmine prospect is an injectite target at Eocene level, which is analogous to the Kveikje discovery, and has recoverable volume range preliminarily estimated between 10 to 30 mmboe (P90-P10) with the main risk being reservoir presence and quality.

The work program consists of seismic studies, potential seismic reprocessing and integration of results from ongoing and near-term wells targeting the same interval in the area, which combined have the potential to significantly improve the chances of success ahead of making a drill decision. The potential drilling decision has to be made by February 2025.