The shelf 2010 – Developments

During 2010, the authorities approved plans for development and operation (PDOs) for three fields in the North Sea and one in the Norwegian Sea. Many new production platforms are planned, and the activity level in the North Sea will be high.

The four fields with approved PDOs are Marulk, Gaupe, Gudrun and Ekofisk. The PDO for Valemon was submitted and processed in late 2010, with final approval by the authorities expected in 2011.

Gudrun and Valemon are situated in the North Sea; Gudrun in the Sleipner area and Valemon in the northern part of the North Sea. Statoil is the operator of both fields, which it has decided to develop using basically the same type of production platform.

The Eni-operated Marulk field is a subsea development that will be tied in to the Norne field in the Norwegian Sea. This is the second PDO for Eni, which secured approval of the PDO for the Goliat field in the Barents Sea in 2009. BG Norge secured approval of its first PDO for the Gaupe field, which is a subsea development tied in to the Armada field in the UK.

ConocoPhillips secured approval of a PDO for a new living quarters platform on Ekofisk. This will be followed by major development projects in the Ekofisk area.

The authorities also approved a PDO for low pressure production on the Kristin field in the Norwegian Sea.

Compared with plans from early 2010, only the Frøy PDO has been delayed, as well as a small discovery called Flyndre, which is mainly situated in the UK sector.

Many PDOs could be submitted in 2011, including several subsea developments. The operators often plan rapid project execution to achieve satisfactory profitability. For example, Total plans to submit a PDO in 2011 for 25/5-7 (David), proven in 2010. This is also the case for Marathon and 24/9-9s (Marihøne), proven in 2009.

In 2010, Statoil decided to develop the Gudrun and Valemon fields using production platforms. In 2011, ConocoPhillips will submit PDOs for Ekofisk Sør and Eldfisk II, which will also be developed using production platforms. Total plans to develop 30/7-6 (Hild) using a production platform.

This concept is also being considered by Lundin for 16/8-1 (Luno) and Det norske oljeselskap for 16/1-9 (Draupne). Both the authorities and the operating companies have identified possible enhanced value creation through a joint development solution for these two discoveries on the Utsira High in the North Sea.

Statoil is also considering a platform for 15/5-1 (Dagny), where a PDO could be submitted in 2012. All in all, this contributes to robust activity in the North Sea, and many new production platforms.

Several of the discoveries (Valemon, Hild, Gudrun) proven in the 1970s and 1980s are technically challenging. The reservoirs are complex, with faults and relatively high pressure. Commercial development of these discoveries has not previously been possible.

BG Norge submitted its first PDO for Gaupe in 2010, and PDO number two in early January this year for 34/3-1s (Jordbær). The discovery will be developed using a production ship (FPSO). A similar development solution could also be recommended for 17/12-1 (Bream), also operated by BG, with expected PDO submission sometime this year. Since both discoveries are relatively small, the operator has opted to charter an FPSO to achieve satisfactory profitability.

The diversity of players that has characterised exploration activity on the Norwegian shelf in recent years is also reflected on the development side, as several operating companies (Statoil, Total, BG, Det norske, Lundin, ConocoPhillips, Marathon) plan to submit PDOs in 2011.