Semi set for Greater Stella . . .

North Sea independent Ithaca Energy will use Petrofac's FPF-1 semi – the former AH-001 deployed by Hess on Ivanhoe/Rob Roy – as a production hub to develop the Greater Stella Area (GSA ) fields, Stella, Harrier, Hurricane and Helios. Jennifer Pallanich reports.

First production from this Central North Sea development is expected at an initial rate of 30,000boe/d in 2H 2013, with oil and condensate production given priority over gas in the early years to maximize value.

Petrofac is selling 80% of the share capital in FPF-1 Ltd to Ithaca and Dyas; at the date of sale, the semi had a book value of $43 million. Ithaca, Dyas and Challenger Minerals North Sea (purchased by Ithaca from Transocean in a separate, $35 million deal) will grant Petrofac a right to earn a 20% pro-rated equity interest in Stella/Harrier. Ithaca and Dyas are transferring a 20% pro-rated equity interest in Helios to Petrofac. Ithaca is transferring a 20% interest in Hurricane to Petrofac.

Petrofac will modify the FPF-1 to process oil and gas and upgrade the unit prior to deployment at Stella. The platform, with processing capacities of 38,000b/d and 85mmcf/d, will export oil and gas via existing nearby pipelines for onward transmission to market.

Ithaca plans to submit a field development plan – initially involving Stella and Harrier producing to the FPF-1 via subsea tiebacks – to the UK Department of Energy & Climate Change by year end. Early next year, Awilco Drilling will provide a semi to drill an appraisal well and perform a well test at Hurricane, where a 1995 exploration well encountered 41°API oil in a 62ft of reservoir sands. Ithaca expects to have the measure of Hurricane's commerciality in 2Q 2012. A ‘drill or drop' decision on Helios, a more recent discovery, is expected in 2013.

Ithaca is working to secure a rig for development drilling at Stella and Harrier in late 2012. Ithaca envisages a need for five wells at Stella and two at Harrier to achieve maximum recovery. Penspen's Andrew Palmer & Associates has been contracted to provide the subsea FEED services for EPC Offshore in support of the GSA development.

Initially production will come from four Stella wells: three into the Stella Andrew reservoir and one into the Stella Ekofisk reservoir. Following the drilling and completion of the first four Stella wells a well will be drilled into the Harrier Ekofisk reservoir. Once gas processing capacity becomes available on the FPF-1, as production from the initial Stella wells comes off plateau, the development plan involves drilling a fifth well in the Stella Andrew reservoir and the tie-in of production from the Harrier field and drilling of a well into the Harrier Tor reservoir.

Ithaca originally held 100% in Hurricane but has now divested a 25.34% interest in the field to Dyas. Original interests in Stella/Harrier were Ithaca (50.33%), Dyas (31.67%) and Challenger (18%). Ithaca retains a 68.33% interest in Helios, with Dyas holding the remaining 31.67%. With the Challenger acquisition, Ithaca now operates Stella/Harrier in block 30/6a, Hurricane in block 29/10b and Helios in block 29/10d with a 54.66% interest on behalf of Dyas and Petrofac.

Following the various transactions, and on the basis of a December 2010 Sproule GSA reserves report, Ithaca's adjusted net 2P reserves are 16.26 million boe for Stella, 13.15 million boe for Harrier and 2.68 million boe at Hurricane, for a total of 32.09 million boe. OE

BUSINESS BREAKTHROUGH: Subsea project and integrity management specialist Flexlife has signed its first deal in South America, a memorandum of understanding with Petrobras to develop and provide a new integrity management system and specialised engineering services for its international oil and gas projects offshore. Pictured at the 13 October MoU signing in Rio are (left to right): Charles Cruickshank, sales & marketing director of Flexlife and the firm's executive manager in Brazil, Leonardo Pessoa Dias; Petrobras chief international officer Jorge Zelda and Flexlife CEO Stuart Mitchell. 

.. . as Athena awaits modified FPSO 
Meanwhile Ithaca is looking for first oil before year end from its Athena field in UKCS block 14/18b. The FPSO BW Athena recently underwent major modifications at Dry Docks World, Dubai, including the upgrade and refurbishment of its process module, installation of a new power generation module, main crane and chemical and water injection packages, and the addition of a new 20m section with mooring system and swivel. 

The FPSO is due to leave Dubai around mid-November, arriving in the North Sea in December. An anticipated 14-day start-up procedure will then entail securing the FPSO over the STP buoy, and completing final hook-up and commissioning of all surface and subsea systems. Ithaca said the Athena project remains within budget. Meg Chesshyre


Beating a path to Brazil The colonization of big-spending Brazil by oilfield service companies, contractors and vendors targeting the pre-salt continues apace. 

Baker Hughes, one of the high-profile players busy establishing a presence on the Rio de Janeiro Federal University (UFRJ) campus alongside groups such as Schlumberger, Halliburton, FMC Technologies, GE and Weatherford (OEJuly), opened its research and technology center there on 7 October. Andy O'Donnell, the company's western hemisphere president, said the new facility would open up ‘a new level of collaboration' with customers and Latin American universities. 

‘Together we will build a new generation of highly specialized wellbore construction tools and services to economically produce the pre-salt reservoirs in offshore Brazil,' he added. Baker Hughes is already partnering with the UFRJ and Petrobras to consult on the design, construction and operation of a full-scale laboratory drilling simulator located near the university. 

Also thinking big in Brazil is SBM Offshore which last month agreed to work jointly with Naval Ventures, through one or more special-purpose entities, on the development and operation of a topside module fabrication yard and a quayside facility for FPSO integration and commissioning at Niterói. 

The two companies will also jointly upgrade, own and operate a floating crane (>500t) for lifting modules onto FPSO decks. 

Another fabrication facility, for subsea and floating structures, will be established by Italy's Saipem following the acquisition of local firm TPG and the 35ha area it owns as a ‘perpetual concession' in Guarujá, within the Santos port industrial area. Saipem said the new yard and associated logistics base, including the TPG purchase, would cost around $300 million and be completed inside two and a half years. DM

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