GDF SUEZ E&P Nederland operates the field, one of two to straddle the median line between Dutch and UK waters, the other being Markham. Orca extends over UK blocks 44/24a, 44/29b and 44/30a, and Dutch blocks D15b and D18a.
Development, which involves unitization of the various partnership interests, was approved in 2011. Production is expected to start later this year or early 2014.
According to partner RWE Dea, the normally unmanned D18a-A platform is in 40 m (131 ft) of water in the Dutch sector, 500 m (1,640 ft) from the UK border. It is designed to produce gas from up to six wells with a maximum production capacity of 2.4 MMcm/d (84.75 MMcf/d).
Drilling has started of the first development well, targeting a Carboniferous reservoir around 3,600 m (11,811 ft) deep. This will be the first of as many as three planned gas producers.
At Orca the produced gas, separated from free liquid in the production separator, will be measured on the platform and exported via an 8-in. subsea pipeline to the D15a-A platform 20 km (12.4 mi) to the north for further treatment. Additionally, a 2-in. pipeline from the platform will convey methanol.
Following treatment on the platform, Orca’s gas will head through the NGT subsea trunkline to Uithuizen in the Netherlands.