BP produces first oil from major North Sea development

BP, with its partners Shell, ConocoPhillips, and Chevron, has started production from its Clair Ridge offshore project located in the West of Shetland region offshore the UK.

Clair Ridge / Image by BP
Clair Ridge / Image by BP

Clair Ridge is the second phase of development of the Clair field, 75 kilometers West of Shetland. The field, which was discovered in 1977, has an estimated seven billion barrels of hydrocarbons.

Two new, bridge-linked platforms and oil and gas export pipelines have been constructed as part of the Clair Ridge project.

According to BP, the partners invested more than £4.5 billion in the new offshore facilities, designed for 40 years of production.

In addition to the platforms, the Clair Ridge project also included new pipeline infrastructure with the installation of a 5.5-kilometer, 22-inch oil export pipeline tying into the Clair Phase 1 export pipeline. Oil from Clair is exported to the Sullom Voe Terminal on Shetland.

640 million barrels

The Clair Ridge development is expected to recover an estimated 640 million barrels of oil with production expected to ramp up to a peak at plateau level of 120,000 barrels of oil per day.

Technology is expected to help achieve this target. Namely, BP has said that the Clair Ridge development is the first offshore deployment of BP’s enhanced oil recovery technology, LoSal.

Losal has the potential to increase oil recovery from reservoirs by using reduced salinity water in water injection. This is expected to result in up to 40 million additional barrels being cost-effectively recovered over the lifetime of the development, BP said.

Bernard Looney, BP Chief Executive Upstream, said: “The start-up of Clair Ridge is a culmination of decades of persistence. Clair was the first discovery we made in the West of Shetland area in 1977. But trying to access and produce its seven billion barrels proved very difficult. We had to leverage our technology and ingenuity to successfully bring on the first phase of this development in 2005.

Clair Ridge platforms / Image by BP

“And now more than 40 years after the original discovery, we have first oil from Clair Ridge, one of the largest recent investments in the UK. This is a major milestone for our Upstream business and highlights BP’s continued commitment to the North Sea region.”

A new 14.6-kilometer, six-inch gas export pipeline tying Clair Ridge into the West of Shetland Pipeline Systems (WOSPS) was also installed as part of the project. The WOSPS transports gas from West of Shetland to the Sullom Voe Terminal.

Clair Ridge also features an advanced drill rig which will deliver a drilling program over several years. There are 36 well slots, two of which are being used for the tieback of pre-drilled wells. The drilling programme, which is likely to last more than 10 years, includes drilling and completing development wells from the remaining 34 well slots.

Major milestone for UKCS

Andy Samuel, Chief Executive at the Oil and Gas Authority said: “First oil from the newly built Clair Ridge platform is a major milestone for the UKCS. The OGA continues to view the West of Shetland as strategically important with substantial remaining potential. The Clair Field has in excess of 7 billion barrels in place and is expected to sustain production for many decades to come, with significant scope for further phases of development. We welcome BP’s ongoing commitment to MER UK.”

Oil & Gas UK Chief Executive Deirdre Michie added: “First oil at Clair Ridge represents a major milestone in BP’s developments West of Shetland, the frontier region which is likely to have the greatest potential to expand current UK production. It’s greatly encouraging to see one of the basin’s original explorers using new, ambitious approaches and pioneering technology to help lead a revival in production. This is another firm step towards maximizing economic recovery from the basin.”

Energy Minister Claire Perry said: “The North Sea is crucial for the UK’s energy security and helping businesses maximize economic recovery there is an aim for this government. Aided by the innovative use of technology developed in the UK and a strong UK-based supply chain worth £1.5 billion, this will allow the North Sea to continue to be a hub for the high-skilled, well-paid jobs at the centre of our modern Industrial Strategy.”

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