BP is due to restart production at the high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) Rhum gas field in the UK North Sea, four years after the field was shut in due to Western sanctions against its 50% owner, Iran.
A BP spokesperson said today that production was due to restart soon, possibly tomorrow. Rhum, some 380km north east of Aberdeen in 109m water depth, had accounted for 2% of the UK's gas production when it was shutdown in 2010.
An easing of sanctions against Iran earlier this year, and government lobbying, meant the field has been able to be brought back online through an agreement whereby all revenue due to Tehran will be held in a frozen until sanctions are fully lifted. The UK's Department of Energy and Climate change also has temporary control of Iran's share of the field.
The were concerns that leaving the HPHT field shut in (while still requiring maintenance) would result in its early abandonment, due to reliance on its supporting infratructure, specifically the Bruce facility, which is reliant on production from Rhum to be economically viable. Without production from Rhum, Bruce, which is 44km from Rhum, could have been decommissioned prematurly.
The field, discovered in 1972 in block 3/29, originally first started producing in December 2005, as a subsea tieback to Bruce, and cost US$565.6 million to develop. It was due to have a 16-year production life.
Down hole pressures and temperatures on the field during appraisal in the 2000s were 150 degrees Celsius and 12,000psi. Bruce was 99 degrees Celcius and 6000psi.
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