Green light for Ormen Lange appraisal

Fading giant: reserves and reservoir pressure are on the wane at Ormen Lange

Shell has received consent from Norway’s safety agency to use semi-submersible Transocean Barents to carry out appraisal drilling work at its Ormen Lange gas field in the Norwegian Sea.

The rig is set to spud the 6305/8-2 probe at the giant field in the More basin later this month as the Anglo-Dutch operator targets additional resource potential in a technically challenging area with water depths ranging from 800 metres to more than 1100 metres.

Drilling of the well will signal the first stage of Shell’s ambitious Ormen Lange D Far South (OLDFS) project aimed at proving up fresh resources in the southern part of the field structure.

Remaining reserves are on the wane at the field, which is also suffering from a pressure decline that is hitting production as the reservoir becomes more depleted.

Shell earlier this year decided to shelve plans for subsea compression at the field to boost recovery, despite positive results from a pilot programme.

Remaining gas resources were estimated at 194.5 billion cubic metres at the end of 2013, down from an initial level of 314.6 Bcm, according to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate.

While not disclosing the resource estimate being targeted by the appraisal probe, a Shell spokeswoman told Upstream earlier this year the company was hoping it would provide information on reservoir properties and whether there was communication with the rest of the field.

Even before results of the well are known, Shell already has a team in place for the project and has drafted a tentative OLDFS development plan that envisages installation of subsea facilities in the summer of 2017 and start-up in the third quarter of that year.

Ormen Lange is Norway’s second largest gas field and is located in water depths of between 850 amd 1100 metres. The reservoir is situated 120 kilometres north- west for Kristiansund, almost 3000 metres below the surface of the sea.

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