Ireland's Kinsale area offshore gas fields in the Celtic Sea have officially ceased production, after more than 40 years online.
The news of production cessation from the gas fields was shared by the operator PSE Kinsale Energy, a subsidiary of Malaysia's Petronas, on Monday. Production from the fields, between approximately 40 and 70km off the County Cork coast, began in 1978 and peaked in 1995.
Back in April 2018, PSE Kinsale Energy said that reserves at the gas fields were depleting and all measures were being carried out to decommission the production facilities.
The Kinsale area gas fields were developed since 1978 and remained Ireland's only indigenous source of natural gas until 2015. By the time gas production ceased in 2020, almost two trillion cubic feet of gas had been produced at the Kinsale area gas fields, double the original reserve estimate, the company said.
PSE Kinsale Energy, acquired by Petronas in 2009 from Marathon Oil, said that specialist international offshore contractors have been engaged to carry out the decommissioning works, which are now "underway offshore and are expected to continue over the next two to three years. "
All wells will be permanently plugged and the associated facilities (platforms, pipelines, cables subsea structures, and the onshore terminal at Inch, East Cork) will be decommissioned.
PSE Kinsale Energy Limited Chief Executive Officer. Fergal Murphy said: "The Kinsale area gas fields have reached the end of their productive life which marks a very significant milestone in the history of gas exploration and production in Ireland. Initially, the Kinsale Head, and latterly the Ballycotton, Seven Heads and South-West Kinsale gas fields have, over the past 40 years, contributed significantly to the local economy and the development of the natural gas industry in Ireland."
Commenting on the end of production the Kinsale are gas fields, Mandy Johnston, CEO of the Irish Offshore Operators' Association said; "IOOA notes, with sadness, the end of gas production at the Kinsale Head gas field after 42 years of production. Throughout that time, gas from Kinsale Head has been a mainstay of the economy in the Cork region, a catalyst for many industries and provided Ireland with a reliable, secure, clean, and safe source of energy."
The Kinsale area offshore infrastructure consists of two steel platforms installed as part of the initial field development – Kinsale Alpha and Kinsale Bravo.
These were commissioned in 1978. There are also a number of underwater (subsea) wells that were drilled to produce smaller gas discoveries. These wells are connected to the platforms by means of underwater pipelines and control cables. The facilities have only been used to process natural gas, as no oil has been produced in the area.
The platforms' topsides and jackets are planned to be removed using a heavy lift vessel, pipelines and cables are expected to be left in-situ covered with rock protection where required. Subsea equipment will be removed by a construction support vessel. The onshore terminal will be stripped of equipment and reinstated to agricultural use.
Worth noting, while the Kinsale fields have ceased production, and the infrastructure will be removed, the area might soon be home to another type of energy-producing facilities, floating offshore wind turbines.
Namely, in the area closed to the near the Kinsale gas fields, Ireland-based offshore renewables company Simply Blue Energy is planning a floating offshore wind farm of up to 1GW capacity.
The company has this week made an application to the Irish Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage for a license to carry out initial site investigation works under the Foreshore Act, 1933, in an area off the Kinsale coast, County Cork, Ireland.
All images by PSE Kinsale Energy