Exploration activity on the UKCS reached a low in 2018. Only 7 exploration wells were drilled according to data from the OGA. Three additional wells were spudded in 2018 but not finished before the year-change, i.e. FB9, Glengorm and Wick, which was announced as dry this week (“dry well in Moray Firth“).
On Prospex in November, Nick Richardson, the Oil and Gas Authority’s Head of Exploration & New Ventures called out to the industry to explore more. The target is 15 to 25 exploration wells a year. It seems that activity is picking up again with 18 exploration wells in OGA’s forecast for 2019.
Wells currently drilling
Three exploration wells are currently drilling on the UKCS. Results from the Glengorm exploration well in block 22/21c-13 are expected any time now according to Upstreamonline.com. This HP/HT well was spudded in the summer of 2018 with an estimated duration of 147 days. Operator CNOOC (formerly Nexen Energy) is targeting the Upper Jurassic Fulmar and Heather formations.
The other wildcat which in the process of being completed is Neptune Energy’s Fault Block 9 well in block 44/12b-7 near the Cygnus field in the southern North Sea.
Another HPHT well currently drilling is the exploration well on the Rowallan prospect in the Central North Sea, spudded by ENI just after New Year (“Rowallan well spud”).
Plans for 2019
Westwood Global Energy knows of at least 20 exploration wells that could be drilled in 2019, based on firm indications of activity.
Corallian Energy has just finished the Wick well and will drill the Colter prospect next. The Colter prospect is located in Bournemouth Bay, immediately southeast of the Wytch Farm Field. According to Corallian, the 98/11-3 well, which encountered oil in the Triassic Sherwood sandstone reservoir in 1986, lies on the flank of a structure that has the potential to hold unrisked P50 Prospective Resources of 26.8 million barrels of oil recoverable from the same reservoir.
Equinor has just started its 3 well campaign on the UKCS after making a small gas discovery in the Norwegian Sea (“small gas discovery in Norwegian Sea”). The first well is planned on the Bigfoot prospect, located south of the Mariner field in licence P2314. It will then move on to the Pip prospect, located nearby in the Fladen Ground Spur area in licence P2318. The third well in the programme is an appraisal well on the Verbier discovery. A commitment well on the Lifjellet prospect in the Jæren High area could potentially also be drilled during 2019.
Siccar Point’s 2019 well campaign includes the Lyon and Blackrock prospect. The Lyon Prospect, located West of Shetland, is estimated to contain 1-3 trillion cubic feet recoverable gas reserves. Lyon is located immediately west of the volcanic Erlend High at the edge of the Flett Sub-Basin. It is a strong seismic amplitude anomaly within Tertiary Flett sandstones which have been deposited along the edge of the Erlend High. The prospect geometry is partly structural and partly a stratigraphic pinch-out. The Blackrock prospect is on the Corona Ridge structure in license P1830 with the Tertiary Colsay sands and deeper Upper Jurassic sands as targets.
Hurricane Energy and Spirit Energy have an exploration and appraisal campaign scheduled in 2019 in the greater Warwick area on the Rona Ridge West of Shetland, including appraisal of the Lincoln discovery and an exploration well on the Warwick prospect in Blocks 204/30b and 205/26d (Licence P2294). The Warwick Prospect is a northern extension to the Lincoln structure. Lincoln, which is an oil discover in basement reservoir and Warwick could be a single continuous accumulation according to Hurricane Energy.
Spirit Energy who became operator for the Babbage Field (read “Spirit Energy operator of the Babbage Field” ) also plans to drill a well on the nearby Python prospect in Q2 2019. The Python prospect in licenses P2212 and P2301 is a narrow, elongated fault-bounded horst with the Rotliegendes Leman Formation sandstones as target.
Apache and Neptune Energy have the Isabella prospect on the schedule, which Neptune has described as one of the largest undrilled exploration opportunities in the Central North Sea.
Cairn Energy is planning to drill the Chimera prospect in License P2312 in the North Sea during the second half of 2019. Chimera could contain 154 mmboe gross according to Cairn.
ONE (Now ONE-Dyas) is planning an exploration well on the Ossian and Darach prospects in blocks 42/2a, 3a, 4, 5 & 36/30 located approximately 25 kilometres north of the Breagh gas field on the northern edge of the UK southern gas basin. The acreage contains the Carboniferous Darach and Permian reef Ossian prospects.