The Sleipner area in the North Sea is a good example of a mature area on the Norwegian shelf where the APA (Awards in Predefined Areas) system and the introduction of new companies have been a success.
Several new field developments
New fields will be developed in the Sleipner area in the years to come which, in total, can lead to investments in the range of NOK 80-100 billion, or 3-4 times as much as the Goliat development in the Barents Sea. The total resource base is in excess of 110 million Sm3 o.e. (oil equivalents), of which about one-third is gas.
The first field is Statoil-operated Gudrun, where the plan for development and operation (PDO) was approved in the first half of 2010.
Gudrun, which is located about 40 kilometres north of Sleipner, was proven in 1975. Recoverable oil and gas reserves are estimated at around 18 million Sm3 o.e. Estimated total investments are around NOK 20 billion. The licensees plan to develop the field with a stand-alone platform with oil and gas export via Sleipner and on to Kårstø in northern Rogaland county.
Statoil is also preparing a PDO for the Dagny field.
This will probably be a large, independent development. Dagny has resources in the range of 35 million Sm3 o.e, and the recoverable oil resources can probably be increased substantially assuming that gas injection is selected in the development solution.
New companies that have carried out successful exploration in this area are Swedish company Lundin and the Trondheim-based company Det Norske.
In 2007, Lundin proved the Luno discovery, which contains about 20 million Sm3 o.e. The company is also operator of well 16-2/6 being drilled on the nearby Avaldsnes prospect. Lundin’s plans also include drilling on Apollo, another prospect located near the Luno discovery.
Det Norske’s exploration record in the area is also good, and includes the Draupne discovery containing around 9 million – 14 million Sm3 o.e., the Hanz discovery with around 2 million – 4 millionSm3 o.e. and the West Cable discovery with about 0.5million – 1 million Sm3 o.e.
The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) has sent letters to Lundin and Det Norske, asking that the companies consider a coordinated development solution for the discoveries in the area. The NPD believes that a coordinated development could yield significant gains in the form of lower costs and improved profitability.
The Luno discovery and the Ermintrude appraisal (which is part of Dagny) were both made in APAs awarded after 2003. This shows that the authorities’ APA policy (awards in predefined/mature areas) has been very successful in the Sleipner area. Several discoveries have been made by new players who have a fresh approach to the area. Both Lundin and Det Norske are good examples of companies with an active approach to exploration activity.
The work programs associated with awards in mature areas are tailored to facilitate rapid decisions and developments. When discoveries are made, the authorities require that the discoveries are either evaluated for potential development, or relinquished.
Exploitation of infrastructure
The gas in this area contains a lot of CO2. Sleipner has facilities that can separate CO2 from the gas and inject it into the ground.
In addition to the fact that Sleipner can be used as a process facility for the gas for further transport to Kårstø, Sleipner can also be a potential liquid hub for the area. Feasibility studies are underway to map necessary modifications if this develops. There is good capacity in the condensate pipeline from Sleipner to Kårstø.
From a socio-economic perspective, it is important to keep the infrastructure in operation as long as possible. The operator is also implementing measures within the Sleipner licence (production licence 046) which will ensure better exploitation of the facilities (for example, new wells, lowpressure production).
Source: Ptil, August 27, 2010