Oil companies announce offshore work

Moira Baird
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Offshore

It wasn't a day of big offshore deal, but the annual offshore oil and gas conference in St. John's generated the kind of announcements that are the bread and butter of the province's offshore sector.

Suncor Energy, ExxonMobil and Statoil Canada unveiled plans for drilling, exploration and upgrades to production platforms over the next few years.

From left, Gary Vokey, Glenn Scott and Hege Rogno

It wasn't a day of big offshore deal, but the annual offshore oil and gas conference in St. John's generated the kind of announcements that are the bread and butter of the province's offshore sector.

Suncor Energy, ExxonMobil and Statoil Canada unveiled plans for drilling, exploration and upgrades to production platforms over the next few years.

About 1,000 people are attending the Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association (NOIA) conference this week.

Terra Nova

As of June 9, Terra Nova had pumped 300 million barrels of oil, a milestone in the life of the field that pumped first oil in 2002.

That leaves about 140 million barrels of recoverable oil remaining.

Suncor, which operates Terra Nova, plans to drill a pair of development wells to tap into more crude.

"While the Terra Nova field is in natural decline, we are pursuing a number of initiatives to offset this decline, including the development of additional reserves primarily in and around the Terra Nova area," said Gary Vokey, Terra Nova asset manager for Suncor.

The company also has exploration drilling plans.

"We have numerous prospects on the table right now that are undergoing further evaluation."

First, the company will return to its Ballicatters exploration well originally drilled last year.

"We will be going in possibly before the end of 2010. If not, certainly early in 2011 for further evaluation work," Vokey told NOIA delegates during a question and answer session.

"We are working up a number of other exploration plays right now that I'm not in a position to comment on.

"But it is our intention, based on the success of Ballicatters, to continue with further exploration."

To do the work, Suncor is part of a three-way rig-sharing deal signed in April with Husky Energy and Statoil. The companies have hired the rig Henry Goodrich for another three years. Under the deal, Suncor gets the rig for 490 drilling days.

Suncor is also planning a month-long shutdown in July to install new equipment on the seabed at Terra Nova.

A longer shutdown is tentatively planned for mid-2011 when the Terra Nova production ship heads to a local shipyard to replace a major piece of equipment.

It's called a water-injection swivel. Located in the production ship's turret, it uses water pressure to stimulate the flow of oil from the reservoir.

Vokey said the production ship will leave the oilfield for 105 days.

"We will maintain the flexibility to delay it until 2012 should the swivel continue to operate in a satisfactory, safe manner."

The damaged swivel was repaired in 2006.

Vokey said the equipment is regularly monitored and the company has plans and equipment ready to replace it.

"It continues to function safely and efficiently within its operating parameters."

Hibernia

ExxonMobil announced plans to spend a combined $400 million in upgrades at the Hibernia platform over the next few years.

"All of the wells at Hibernia - the main Hibernia wells, the Hibernia southern extension wells - will benefit from gas lift to help lift the oil and fluids out of the well," said Glenn Scott, president of ExxonMobil Canada.

ExxonMobil is one of the partners in the Hibernia Management and Development Corp.

The Hibernia platform will get a new, $200-million offshore loading system in 2011.

The equipment is used to pump crude aboard shuttle tankers that transport the oil to the Whiffen Head transshipment facility in Placentia Bay.

"That really is related to longer field life, producing more oil and gas over time."

In 2012, Scott said the partners will spend $200 million on a "gas-lift project" aimed at increasing oil production at Hibernia.

Statoil grows

Statoil Canada plans to return to the site of its deep-water Mizzen discovery - this time, to drill an appraisal well.

"We are going to go back to the Mizzen area and appraise that in the next one to two years," said Hege Rogno, Statoil's vice-president of offshore upstream.

The company is also preparing to explore the southern part of the oil-producing Jeanne d'Arc Basin, which is home to the Hibernia, Terra Nova and White Rose oilfields.

Last year, Statoil hit hydrocarbons at the Mizzen well about 500 kilometres east of St. John's. The well sits in water depths of 1,100 metres.

The company hasn't revealed if those hydrocarbons are oil or gas, and has another year to keep its discovery confidential under offshore rules.

To manage the new activity, Statoil's presence in St. John's will grow.

"This year, we're also moving offices to be able to expand and prepare for drilling," Rogno said.

"We're moving into Atlantic Place ... towards the end of this year."

Rogno expects to have 30 employees in that office in the next year or so.

Statoil is a partner in the Terra Nova and Hibernia oilfields and the Hebron project.

mbaird@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Statoil, ExxonMobil, Hibernia NOIA Suncor Energy Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association Husky Energy

Geographic location: Terra Nova, St. John's, Hibernia southern Placentia Bay White Rose Atlantic Place Hebron

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Recent comments

  • yujiao
    October 13, 2010 - 23:37

    Sounds like Ballicatters was a discovery. I like how they call the well a success and plan to return to go back for further evaluation but they haven't announced it as a discovery. Rumours are also that a pressure event was experienced. Looks like the second discovery in less than 2 years. http://www.shoppanjewellery.com/

  • Penney
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    Sounds like Ballicatters was a discovery. I like how they call the well a success and plan to return to go back for further evaluation but they haven't announced it as a discovery. Rumours are also that a pressure event was experienced. Looks like the second discovery in less than 2 years.

  • Penney
    July 01, 2010 - 19:48

    Sounds like Ballicatters was a discovery. I like how they call the well a success and plan to return to go back for further evaluation but they haven't announced it as a discovery. Rumours are also that a pressure event was experienced. Looks like the second discovery in less than 2 years.