UKCS: Moray Firth Basin – Still Delivering

UKCS: Moray Firth Basin – Still Delivering

The major operators in the UK Moray Firth Basin are cooperating for the continued development of the basin.

The Outer Moray Firth lies east of Northern Scotland and mainly covers UK quadrants 13, 14 and 15 and the northern parts of quadrants 20 and 21. It contains the world class oil fields, such as Piper and Claymore as well as numerous smaller fields. The main reservoirs are the Jurassic shallow marine Piper and deep marine Claymore sands and the Cretaceous Scapa sands. Oil is sourced from the Upper Jurassic Kimmeridge Clay and the traps are mainly tilted fault blocks.  

For the past five years a Special Interest Group consisting of the most of the major operators in the UK Moray Firth Basin have been meeting to formulate a strategy for the continued development of the basin.

The results of a rigorous re-evaluation of the basin indicates there is 1.1 billion barrels of contingent resource and a further 990 million barrels of risked prospective resource yet to be realised. Recently, a consortium of companies including Jersey Oil & Gas recently announced the formation of a joint study group in the Greater Buchan Area involving 7 of these discoveries or redevelopment opportunities. 

However, the regional study characterises some 112 unsanctioned discoveries. In this ‘atypical’ basin there has been 3 production peaks associated with the Piper/Claymore/Tartan, Scott & Buzzard fields through history. This anomalous performance is due to there being multiple plays, coupled with technology advances and (not least!) innovative thinking. Though some of the undeveloped discoveries have challenges due to small size, heavy oil or sour gas there remains potential for low-cost hub developments. With 64 producing fields and 33 former fields at various stages of decommissioning, there is still access to both existing infrastructure and redevelopment opportunities. 

Oil properties have been collated and Dashboards & Slicers allow quick search of any oilfield parameter for any field or discovery in the basin. 

There are many opportunities in the basin to develop known oilfields using mobile production units. Indeed, the SWOPS (Single Well Oil Production System) vessel, the Seillean, operated in this basin in the mid-90’s producing oil from fields such as Donan (now Dumbarton). 

Too many of the existing discoveries do not justify economic development. Some ask “why drill new exploration wells with over 100 small pools awaiting development”? The answer is that some attractive prospects remain where the potential large size could deliver a fourth production peak. Some of the discovered ‘pools’ are even quite large! 

Our vision is for known oil discoveries to either be developed as ‘daisy-chained’ subsea tiebacks or harvested as part-time production centres visited periodically by a floating production facility. With over 100 discoveries to choose from, now is surely the time to be high-grading, screening and forming special interest groups. Re-use of facilities is an option but only if opportunities are matured soon, before cessation of production and decommissioning. 

In this way, when the upturn inevitably comes, there should be projects ready to sanction. Contact for further information.