Statoil returns to Mizzen

Company spuds second well near Flemish Pass discovery

Moira Baird
Published on August 3, 2011

Statoil Canada started drilling its second Mizzen well last week — kicking off an 80-day program to delineate the size of its two-year-old discovery in the Flemish Pass.

Statoil spudded the well dubbed Mizzen F-09 on July 24.

It was less than a week after the company took possession of the shared drill rig Henry Goodrich from Terra Nova partner and oilfield operator, Suncor Energy.

In all, Statoil expects to take about 80 days to drill the Mizzen F-09 well mere kilometres from its discovery well drilled in 2009.

It’s one of two wells and a seismic survey on the Norwegian company’s to-do list this year in the Flemish Pass Basin, which is about 500 kilometres northeast of St. John’s.

“We’re excited about it — it’s a big summer for us,” said Jim Beresford, Statoil’s drilling project manager. “We’re obviously committed to the offshore area here with the amount of work and activity we’ve got going on.”

Deepwater Flemish Pass

The Henry Goodrich is currently drilling Mizzen F-09 in water depths of 1,100 metres.

The rig is rated for 1,500-metre waters, but usually works in the much shallower waters of the oil-producing Jeanne d’Arc Basin.

To work in the Flemish Pass, it needed additional chains to moor itself to a 15-tonne anchor on the seabed.

The extended mooring system was installed by the crew of the Norwegian anchor handling tug Skandi Vega during 10 days in early July. The mooring system allows a semi-submersible rig to hold position over a well during drilling.

“We had to preset mooring equipment to complement the rig’s existing mooring equipment to operate in those water depths,” said Beresford.

“The rig itself doesn’t have enough chain to extend the anchor down to that water depth.”

Winter versus summer drilling

Statoil’s last well in the Flemish Pass took 89 days to complete in the middle of winter.

“We safely executed the last Mizzen well and without issues all the way through the winter and we tested it,” said Beresford.

There were some weather delays.

“On the last Mizzen well, about 25 per cent of our time was spent on weather delays.

“Hopefully, that’ll be reduced by drilling in the summer time.”

So far, there has been no weather delays. Sea conditions are good, though there has been fog. Historically, there has also been ice, but Beresford said the forecast calls for no ice this year in the Flemish Pass.

More exploration

Statoil’s next well this year will be the Fiddlehead prospect south of the Terra Nova oilfield.

Dubbed Fiddlehead D-83, it’s scheduled to take 45 days to drill.

It could an extra two to three weeks, if Statoil finds something worthy of a drill stem test.

“If we do find hydrocarbons, we would test it to assist in an application for a significant discovery licence,” said Beresford. “That would be to flow hydrocarbons and test the encountered reservoir.”

Statoil’s ongoing three-dimensional seismic survey will cover 1,666 square kilometres of seabed north of Mizzen. The 60-day survey started June 30.

Beresford expects it to wrap up by the middle of this month.

Water depths in the northern Flemish Pass range from 2,700 metres to 2,900 metres.

Mizzen history

Statoil calls Mizzen F-09 an exploration well, while the offshore regulator calls it a delineation well. Delineation wells help to determine the size of oil and gas reservoirs.

It’s also the third well on the Mizzen significant discovery licence (SDL).

The first well, Mizzen L-11, was drilled in 2003 by Petro-Canada, which later merged with Suncor. The company announced it found “non-commercial quantities of oil” and abandoned the well.

Statoil drilled the next one — Mizzen O-16 — in 2009. It reported hydrocarbons, though has yet to specify whether they are oil, natural gas or both.

The discovery landed Statoil an SDL in 2010.

In 2004, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board pegged the Flemish Pass’ undiscovered oil resources at 1.7 billion barrels. Resources are considered to be technically feasible to recover, though not economically viable.

Statoil is a partner in the Hibernia, Terra Nova and Hebron oilfields. It currently has 42 employees and contractors working in St. John’s.