Some big projects are in progress all over the North Sea but none are as extensive as the BP programmes being initiated on its fields in the far-north region of the Shetlands. These range from the improvement of facilities west of Shetland to Magnus in the east, which is one of the UK’s longest-producing fields. The development of Phase 2 of the Clair field will raise the level of its production and new gas facilities are scheduled for the Sullom Voe terminal to assist in more efficient offshore production.
The Foinaven field was discovered in 1990 and is 190km (118miles) west of the Shetland Islands. When development eventually went ahead after four years, it became the first oil and gas field of the UK to evolve in the Atlantic Margin. Water depths of 330-520m (1,082-1,706ft) were acknowledged then as being deep and in 1997 the first oil production was launched. By 2000, all the 20 Phase 1 wells were in operation and included the first offshore multi-laterals of BP. A former Russian submarine tender ship, Petrojari Foinhaven, was adapted to work the field and with a length of 240m (787ft) has been in constant service, regardless of sometimes hazardous sea conditions. While BP studies the options to extend field life, the vessel will remain operating into the next decade. The subsea pipeline network benefited from a £100 million injection of investment in 2011-2012 by BP and its partners Shell and Marathon, to replace parts that were necessary after 15 years of activity. According to the vice president of BP, Peter Miller, Foinaven has delivered 335 MMbbl of oil since the beginning of production.
At a distance of 175 km (109 m) west of Shetland is Schiehallion/Loyal. When found in 1993, Schiehallion had an available supply that was calculated to be as much as 500 MMbbl. The following year Loyal was discovered to the north and subsequent to lengthy well tests of both fields, the UK government approved in 1996 a combined development worth £1billion ($1.51b), able to produce 220,000 b/d of oil and 140 MMcf/d of gas, as well as an oil storage capacity of 950,000bbl. In the summer of 1998, oil production began and as Foinhaven was only 15 km (9.3m) to the southwest, the support facilities were shared and included helicopters and supply vessels. Early this year these arrangements no longer existed as operations were shut down so that the existing Schiehallion FPSO could be disconnected to allow for the £3billion ($4.53billion) Quad 204 redevelopment to go ahead. Phase 1 of oil excavation has produced approximately 400 MMbbl but recent studies by BP geologists reveal that during the next 20-25 years, an extra 450 MMbbl could be extracted from the two fields and others in the area. To cope with the extra production a new, larger floater is being built incorporating an up-to-date design and facilities for more efficiency and reliability. Plans also include the drilling of twenty new wells on Schiehallion and five on Loyal by BP and partners Shell, OMV and Statoil.
Clair Ridge was discovered in 1977 and is to this day the largest of those found in the UK. Because it was not known at the time what the effects a fractured reservoir would have on production, development only went ahead in 1997. Initiated in February 2005, the development of Phase 1, costing £650 million ($981million) was created to recover up to 300 MMbbl of oil from the Core, Graben and Horst parts of the southern section of the reservoir. Miller explained that this was the first fixed platform west of Shetland which had to be designed to withstand severe and hazardous weather conditions, also bearing in mind the landing safety of helicopters. Up to now, about 90 MMbbl has been produced and reserves should last another 15 years. The Clair Ridge platforms will also include facilities for the desalination of sea water with expectations by BP of retrieving an extra 42MMbbl of oil by this method.
Magnus was discovered by BP in 1974, 160 km (99m) northeast of Shetland and is the most northern of the active fields in UK waters. Since August 1983 when the oil was first produced, more than 800 MMboe has come from the platform and subsea wells. The Magnus EOR project involved the transportation of gas via a new subsea Shetland pipeline from Foinaven and Schiehallion to the Magnus platform. Gas is introduced into the Magnus water injection wells in order to collect oil that is not recovered by water. The progress and expansion of wells and gas injectors being drilled could carry on into 2020. In order to extract an extra 100 MMboe during the field’s next 15 years of productivity, BP is preparing a schedule of upgrades to the platform to extend its life.
Sullom Voe gas and oil terminal is operated by BP and is situated on the northeast coast of the main island of Shetland. As one of the largest in Europe, it was constructed in the middle of the1970’s to receive oil and gas from fields that were evolving east of Shetland. It also began receiving oil and gas from new fields situated west of Shetland during the 1990’s. Apart from 16 large tanks for crude storage, Sullom Voe has up to now processed over 8 BBbl of oil and stored and loaded 400 MMbbl from Schiehallion/Loyal. Sullom Voe also delivers 40% of the electricity supply to the Shetland Islands, generated from its very own gas-fired power station. The terminal is undergoing a three-year restoration project under the management of BP, Jacobs and Stork. Its original life span was to deliver a service for 25 years and work to be carried out includes the refurbishment of tanks, stabilisation trains and surge facilities as well as pipeline renovation.
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