Sinopec, AED to decommission Puffin oil field in Timor Sea

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (Sinopec) said it will start the decommissioning of remaining equipment from Puffin oil field in the Bonaparte basin in permit AC/RL11 in the Timor Sea offshore northern Australia.

Sinopec bought 60% interest in Puffin in 2008 to join Melbourne-based AED Oil Ltd. in the project, but never saw a worthwhile return on its investment (OGJ Online, Mar. 7, 2008).

Sinopec is planning to remove all the remaining wellheads and equipment from the shut-in field by early next year. The plan is to mobilize a deepwater construction support vessel for the decommissioning with the job expected to take less than a month.

Puffin field lies in 75-100 m of water about 255 km offshore.

It was originally discovered by ARCO in 1972, but not developed until the late 2000s when AED was floated on the Australian Securities Exchange to take advantage of the then-high oil prices.

AED drilled a number of wells that seemed to indicate Puffin field held a high volume of untapped reserves, estimated to be 100 million bbl, albeit in a complex geological setting.

The company embarked on an ambitious floating production, storage, and offloading development (using the Front Puffin FPSO) and had planned to reach a production level of 30,000 b/d and potentially bring in a second FPSO to develop the southern part of the field as well as tie in the nearby smaller Talbot oil field that AED had acquired in 2007. However the group only managed to produce a total of 2.2 million bbl because the development quickly succumbed to water inflow from the reservoir that swamped the oil flow.

The field was effectively abandoned in 2009. AED was then caught up in legal problems with FPSO operator Sea Productions and ordered to pay millions of dollars in damages. The company went into administration and Sinopec was left on its own.

Sinopec has maintained the subsea equipment under a care and maintenance scheme for the last 6 years. In 2014 the Stena Clyde semisubmersible rig permanently plugged and abandoned the seven Puffin production wells and removed any connections to the hydrocarbon reservoirs.

The remaining equipment includes a manifold, static and dynamic flow-lines, pipeline end manifolds, anchors, chains and a marker buoy plus ancillary weights.

Exact timing of the final removal operation will depend on vessel availability and weather conditions in what will be the southern hemisphere cyclone season.

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