Boost for North Sea as Murlach oilfield plan approved

13/09/2023

THE redevelopment of a North Sea field which could yield 20million barrels of oil has been granted UK Government consent.

bp has received approval from the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment & Decommissioning (OPRED) and the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) to develop the Murlach field, which was first discovered in 1986.

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bp is the operator of the Murlach field, formerly known as Skua, with an 80% interest and NEO Energy is its partner with the remaining 20% interest.

The field was originally operated by Shell – under the name ‘Skua’ – from 2001 until it was shut-in in late 2004.

Doris Reiter, senior vice president, North Sea, bp said: “Development of the Murlach field further demonstrates bp’s strategy in action – investing in today’s energy systems and, not or, investing in the energy transition.

“bp has been in the North Sea for close to six decades and are investing in its future and supporting energy security, by focusing on oil and gas opportunities around our portfolio that can be developed through established production facilities with lower operational emissions.

“Murlach is a great example of that as it will be connected to the ETAP (Eastern Trough Area Project) hub which has been operating in the central North Sea for 25 years. In fact, Murlach is a redevelopment of a field that was previously in production in the early 2000s and this project will benefit from the reuse of some existing subsea infrastructure in the area.

“We welcome approval to progress this project and look forward to working with our joint venture partner to bring this field into production.”

bp and NEO will redevelop the field by accessing both potentially partially depleted and new areas of the previously licensed Skua area. 

The field will be connected via subsea infrastructure to the central processing facility (CPF) of the bp-operated Eastern Trough Area Project (ETAP) production hub which has been operating in the central North Sea for 25 years.

Given the proximity to other fields in the area and the presence of equipment used during the Skua era, some existing infrastructure will be shared and reused, helping to minimise the impact of development.

Ryan Crighton, policy director at Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the approval.

“If the alternative is importing oil and gas at a greater carbon cost, then we must favour domestic production,” he said.

“It’s simple, it’s pragmatic and it commits us to sourcing the fossil fuels we need in a manner which minimises emissions and secures tens of thousands of Scottish jobs.

“Public opinion sits full square behind new North Sea licences to deliver energy security and overwhelmingly in support of continuing domestic production over costlier and more carbon-heavy imports of oil and gas from overseas.”

The estimated total recoverable volumes of oil from the Murlach field are anticipated to be in the region of 20 million barrels with some associated gas (approximately 5-10 billion cubic feet). 

Peak production is expected to be in the region of 20,000 barrels of oil per day with some associated gas (approx. 17 million standard cubic feet per day at peak).

Subsea facility installation and first drilling operations are currently due to commence at the Murlach field this year.

First oil is expected in 2025 and the life on the field is expected to be around 11 years.

Oil will be exported via the Forties Pipeline System to Grangemouth, while gas will be delivered to Teesside via the CATS system.

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