UK-based oil and gas company IOG is set to start drilling at the Southwark offshore field in the UK North Sea after a two-month hiatus caused by a problem with one of the offshore drilling rig's legs.
IOG is focused on developing its Southern North Sea gas fields at the Saturn Banks Project. The company in June installed the Blythe and Southwark gas platforms at their respective offshore field locations in the UK. Located in the southern North Sea, the two usually unmanned, remotely controlled platforms are part of IOG's Saturn Bank project which comprises gas resources across six discovered UK Southern North Sea gas fields. Saturn Bank Phase 1 focuses on the development of Blythe, Elgood, and Southwark fields.
The company's Southwark development drilling plans had hit a snag in October after an issue was discovered with one of the legs on the Noble Hans Deul jack-up drilling rig. This has now been repaired and the rig has returned back to the Southwark location.
After successful investigation and repair of the Noble Hans Deul rig leg, the rig was re-mobilized from Dundee port on December 3 and arrived at the Southwark platform 500-meter zone on December 9.
"The first Southwark development well is expected to be spudded by the end of this week," IOG said.
Given the two-month drilling hiatus, IOG said that the first gas is expected at Southwark by mid-2022 after the planned installation in Q1 of the 6km Saturn Banks pipeline extension to the Southwark platform. The rig is then scheduled to move on to drill the Goddard and Kelham North/Central appraisal wells while analysis of reservoir and production data from Southwark wells 1 and 2 will inform an optimal Southwark 3 well plan, IOG said.
First gas delay is expected for the Blythe and Elgood fields too.
At Bacton Gas Terminal, IOG said it was working proactively with terminal operator Perenco and on-site contractors to complete the outstanding Saturn Banks Reception Facilities recommissioning work to bring Phase 1 gas safely and reliably onstream.
"Progress has continued despite some difficult recent weather conditions. The new 45-meter emergency vent stack is now installed, electrical and instrumentation activities are ramping up, and powering up and testing of onshore systems is starting imminently. The SBRF are now expected to be ready to receive production in the early weeks of 2022. The final steps to first gas involve commissioning of end-to-end control and communications systems and backgassing of the pipeline system before opening up the Blythe and Elgood wells in quick succession, "IOG said.
Andrew Hockey, CEO of IOG, commented: "I am pleased to confirm the Noble Hans Deul rig re-mobilized from Dundee back to Southwark in early December as forecast following an efficient repair by Noble Corporation. I look forward to safe and successful execution of the Southwark wells, the first of which is expected to spud in the next week.
"Although significant further progress has been achieved at Bacton, final pre-First Gas commissioning activities are now expected to carry over into the early weeks of 2022. My team and I continue to focus all our efforts on ensuring safe and reliable start-up as early as possible at Blythe and Elgood."
IOG had previously targeted first gas from both the Blythe and Elgood fields in Q4 2021.