Norwegian energy company Equinor and its partners have started oil production from the Mariner field in the UK North Sea, the operator said on Thursday.
The Mariner field, located on the East Shetland Platform of the UK North Sea, approximately 95 miles or 150 kilometers east of Shetland and 320 kilometers northeast of Aberdeen, is expected to produce more than 300 million barrels of oil over the next 30 years.
Equinor is operator with 65.11% equity, and its partners in the field are JX Nippon (20%), Siccar Point (8.89%) and ONE-Dyas (6%).
“The start-up of Mariner, the first Equinor-operated oil field on the UKCS, establishes our foothold in the UK and reinforces our commitment to be a long-term energy partner,” said Hedda Felin, senior vice president for UK and Ireland Offshore in Equinor.
The Mariner reservoirs have up to 3 billion barrels of oil in place, a 50% increase on what was originally assumed, and the estimated recovery rate has already been increased by 20%, Equinor said. Mariner is expected to produce annual average plateau rates of around 55,000 barrels of oil per day and up to 70,000 barrels of oil per day at peak production.
“By gathering and interpreting new seismic data we have improved our understanding of the reservoirs. This has resulted in fewer and better placed wells and increased resources since the project was sanctioned in 2012. With the significant volumes in place, we see clear potential to further increase the oil recovery from the Mariner field and will proactively seek opportunities to do so through the application of new technology, additional drilling and future tie back opportunities,” said Anders Opedal, executive vice president for Technology, Projects and Drilling in Equinor.
The $7.7 billion Mariner field development concept includes a production, drilling and quarters (PDQ) platform based on a steel jacket, with oil being exported to a floating storage unit (FSU) and then to shore via tankers.
Drilling will be carried out from the PDQ drilling rig, with a jack-up rig assisting for the initial period. Around 100 wells will be drilled over the first 12-14 years.
“With the start-up of Mariner, we have delivered one of the most complex developments in the North Sea and Equinor’s portfolio. We will continue to apply digital solutions and new technology to deliver safe and efficient operations and optimize production,” Opedal said.
Digital solutions include automated drilling, digital twin, field worker tools, and digitized logistics to support operational and field maintenance planning.
Mike Tholen, Upstream Policy Director at industry body OIl & GAs UK (OGUK) said, “First oil from Mariner represents a significant achievement for Equinor and its pioneering development of the field, helping the company to become a major player in the UK sector of the North Sea with a long-lasting, positive impact on the region.
“As the largest offshore development in the UK for a decade, Mariner has utilized pioneering technology to bring on stream a field first discovered nearly 40 years ago. In doing so it has provided thousands of highly skilled jobs across the country during its development and will support many more in the years to come.
“The Mariner field will contribute towards energy security for the next 30 years. With up to three billion barrels of oil in place, it contributes to industry’s shared ambition Vision 2035 – which looks to meet as much of the UK’s oil and gas needs from home-produced resources as possible.”