Centrica gets green light for pilot hole in North Sea

Centrica Resources (Norge) AS has received consent from the Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) Norway to drill a shallow borehole to investigate the possible presence of shallow gas in block 8/10, offshore Norway. 

Centrica is the operator of production licence 405 in block 8/10 in the North Sea, close to the Ula field and around 263 kilometres southwest of Stavanger.

Centrica has received consent from the PSA to drill a shallow borehole (pilot hole) down to a depth of 423 metres below the seabed. According to the PSA, the purpose of drilling is to establish that there is no shallow gas in an area, to allow further activity in the prospect. Drilling is estimated to last for 12 days.

The well is to be drilled by the Island Constructor that was originally a vessel designed for light well intervention, but has been modified to enable it to drill shallow boreholes using coiled tubing. It is the first time this technique will be used to drill a well from a facility of this type.

The vessel was built at the Ulstein Verft shipyard in 2008 and is owned by Island Offshore Management AS. Island Constructor was issued with an Acknowledgement of Compliance (AoC) by the PSA in September 2010.

“Coiled tubing drilling from a facility like this is significantly cheaper than using a traditional drilling installation, but it’s fully warranted,” says PSA head of section Monica Ovesen.

“To see coiled tubing drilling being trialled from this type of facility will be interesting. The experience and knowledge gained from this drilling may prove useful when it comes to employing cost-effective drilling methods when conditions permit.”

“It is a common practice to investigate the risk of shallow gas occurrences using a pilot hole before starting exploration drilling and developing a location,” explains Ovesen.

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