Premier pursuing further North Sea openings

Offshore staff

LONDON -- Premier Oil has signed an exclusive arrangement with EnCounter Oil to pursue new exploration opportunities in the UK central and northern North Sea.

Encounter is a new exploration company created by the former senior exploration team of EnCore Oil, which discovered the Buzzard and Catcher fields in the central sector. Premier acquired EnCore last year, but aims to harness the exploration skills of the previous management.

Premier applied for 15 licenses, 10 as operator, under the UK’s 27th licensing round, and plans to participate in Norway’s APA and Open License rounds, due to be initiated in September and November, respectively.

 The company has also submitted two applications for the second Cyprus License Round, where results are expected in the next three months.

Premier has lined up five wells for the remainder of this year in the UK North Sea, including the Carnaby exploration well on the Catcher license, begun last week by the Sedco 711, targeting a Tay reservoir. The rig will then drill the Premier-operated Coaster prospect on an adjacent block.

 The semisub WilPhoenix has been contracted to drill Spaniards East this summer, a Cretaceous reservoir prospect close to Nexen’s Scott field. The rig will then drill Cyclone, a stratigraphic play prospect.

 In the Norwegian North Sea, Premier will participate in a well this fall on the Luno II prospect on the southwest margin of the Utsira high region.

 As for field development, the company says good progress has been made on the EON Ruhrgas-operated Huntington project in the UK central North Sea, where drilling should be completed in July.

 A pipeline is currently being laid and a two-month installation window has been secured for the FPSO, starting Sept. 1. Earlier delays to the FPSO upgrade program have been addressed by increasing manpower at the yard. First oil is scheduled for 4Q 2012, peaking at 25,000 b/d.

 West of Shetland, Premier has exercised a contract for the WilPhoenix to start development drilling next April on the $850-million Solan project.

 Contracts for the topsides facilities, steel jacket, heavy-lift installation, and tank construction should all be finalized by end-May.  First oil is targeted for 4Q 2014.

 As for the Premier-operated Catcher project, the partners should reach agreement on the conceptual design of the development this summer.  Premier is aiming for a final investment decision around year-end, leading to first oil in 2015.

 In the Norwegian North Sea, the Bream project partners have agreed the conceptual design and operator BG Group has signed a front-end engineering and design agreement.  An invitation has been issued to tender for development drilling, and formal project sanction should come through during the second half of 2012. 


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