BP, on behalf of co-venturers Shell, Chevron and ConocoPhillips, recently announced first oil production from the giant Clair Ridge project in the West of Shetland region offshore UK.
Clair Ridge is the second phase of development of the Clair field, 75 kilometres West of Shetland. The field, which was discovered in 1977, has an estimated seven billion barrels of hydrocarbons.
Two new, bridge-linked platforms and oil and gas export pipelines have been constructed as part of the Clair Ridge project. The new facilities, which required capital investment in excess of £4.5B, are designed for 40 years of production. The project has been designed to recover an estimated 640 million barrels of oil with production expected to ramp up to a peak at plateau level of 120,000 barrels of oil per day.
Bernard Looney, BP chief executive Upstream, said: “The start-up of Clair Ridge is a culmination of decades of persistence. Clair was the first discovery we made in the West of Shetland area in 1977. But trying to access and produce its seven billion barrels proved very difficult. We had to leverage our technology and ingenuity to successfully bring on the first phase of this development in 2005.
“And now more than 40 years after the original discovery, we have first oil from Clair Ridge, one of the largest recent investments in the UK. This is a major milestone for our Upstream business and highlights BP’s continued commitment to the North Sea region.”
Clair Ridge is the first offshore deployment of BP’s enhanced oil recovery technology, LoSal, which has the potential to increase oil recovery from reservoirs by using reduced salinity water in water injection. This is expected to result in up to 40 million additional barrels being cost-effectively recovered over the lifetime of the development.
Ariel Flores, Regional President for BP’s North Sea business, said: “Safely delivering first oil from Clair Ridge, in some of the harshest conditions in the UKCS, is the result of years of planning and hard work by BP, our partners and supply chain colleagues. We are proud to have played our part in this pioneering project and are excited for the Clair region’s continued potential.”
In addition to the platforms, the Clair Ridge project also included new pipeline infrastructure with the installation of a 5.5-kilometre, 22-inch oil export pipeline tying into the Clair Phase 1 export pipeline. Oil from Clair is exported to the Sullom Voe Terminal on Shetland.
A new 14.6-kilometre, six-inch gas export pipeline tying Clair Ridge into the West of Shetland Pipeline Systems (WOSPS) was also installed as part of the project. The WOSPS transports gas from West of Shetland to the Sullom Voe Terminal.
Clair Ridge also features an advanced drill rig which will deliver a drilling programme over several years. There are 36 well slots, two of which are being used for the tieback of pre-drilled wells. The drilling programme, which is likely to last more than 10 years, includes drilling and completing development wells from the remaining 34 well slots.
Dr Andy Samuel, Chief Executive at the Oil and Gas Authority said: “First oil from the newly built Clair Ridge platform is a major milestone for the UKCS. The OGA continues to view the West of Shetland as strategically important with substantial remaining potential. The Clair Field has in excess of 7 billion barrels in place and is expected to sustain production for many decades to come, with significant scope for further phases of development. We welcome BP’s ongoing commitment to MER UK.”
Oil & Gas UK Chief Executive Deirdre Michie added: “First oil at Clair Ridge represents a major milestone in BP’s developments West of Shetland, the frontier region which is likely to have the greatest potential to expand current UK production. It’s greatly encouraging to see one of the basin’s original explorers using new, ambitious approaches and pioneering technology to help lead a revival in production. This is another firm step towards maximising economic recovery from the basin.”
The start of production of Clair Ridge follows the start-up earlier in 2018 of five other Upstream major projects: Atoll Phase One, offshore Egypt, Shah Deniz 2 gas development in Azerbaijan, TAAS expansion project in Russia, Western Flank B offshore Western Australia and Thunderhorse Northwest Expansion in the Gulf of Mexico.
This string of developments will follow from 2017’s seven major project completions and is key to delivering the 900,000 barrels of oil equivalent new production that BP expects from new upstream major projects by 2021.