Dumbarton: Breathing new life into an abandoned field

abarrelfullabarrelfull wrote on 31 May 2012 06:09
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1/5/2011

When Maersk Oil entered the United Kingdom in 2005, it knew it had to maximise every opportunity in this market of overcrowded but highly experienced operators. It soon found that in an offshore industry in which over 130 oil firms vie for the best blocs, licences and deals, opportunities could be found in the most unlikely of places.

Maersk Oil was unfazed by the abandoned Donan field, recognizing the chance to use its experience of working depleted reservoirs to turn it into a commercial success.

Within five years of adding it to its portfolio, the field got a new name – Dumbarton, a new lease of life and a development plan that let it produce more oil than it did during its entire previous life.

‘We were able to bring new evaluation tools to the reservoir,’ explained Managing Director Martin Rune Pedersen. “Re-modelling and reservoir stimulation techniques had been developed since the field was first shut in and we had a great track record in extracting oil and gas from mature basins and managing complex projects.’

Dumbarton is located in blocks 15/20a and 15/20b in the UK North Sea, in 140 meters of water, 225 kilometers north east of Aberdeen. Maersk Oil is the operator together with Noble Energy Inc, a partner with a 30 percent interest.

As Donan, it was abandoned in 1997 after producing 15.3 million barrels of oil in five years from its sandstone reservoir through a Single Well Oil Production System (SWOPS). The field was blighted by poor reservoir pressure and it was left with the oil produced containing 70 percent water.

In the first major project launched by Maersk Oil in the UK, five horizontal wells and a deviated water injection well were drilled within a year. They were designed to employ gas lift – a method of raising oil from low-pressure reservoirs.

To get Dumbarton going again, however, Maersk Oil needed its own Floating Producing Storage and Offloading vessel (FPSO) and renovated the Global Producer 3 for a price tag of £100 million.

After 170,000 engineering hours and 600,000 construction man hours, dozens of operational systems were modified, the hull recoated and bore piping and cables were installed. Its turnaround, from docking for refurbishments in July 2006 to first oil from Dumbarton in January 2007, was remarkably quick.

“Our first phase was so successful, we were able to bring on a second field extension phase, capitalising on our long standing horizontal well drilling and completion technology,” Pedersen said. “We then saw real potential in the adjacent Lochranza field, which came on stream in January 2010.”

Since first oil in January 2007, Dumbarton has produced over 28 million barrels of oil.

“We are very proud of the Dumbarton project as it is a great example of Maersk Oil’s ability to bring new life to depleted fields. The Dumbarton development will act as a template for future redevelopments here, ensuring a bright future for mature basins, and creating value for the company,” Pedersen said.


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