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Major milestone for North Sea as BP starts up Clair Ridge

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In what will be very welcome news for the North Sea’s oil and gas industry, BP has announced today that they have begun first oil production from the giant Clair Ridge project in the West of Shetland region offshore UK.
BP's Clair Ridge project is expected to produce 120,000 barrels of oil per day at peak.
(Image via BP).

The project’s huge potential means that it will be a source of jobs until at least 2050 and possibly even beyond.

Clair Ridge is the second phase of development of the Clair field, 75 kilometres West of Shetland. The field, which was discovered in 1977, has an estimated seven billion barrels of hydocarbons- making it at least twice as big as the next biggest remaining field in the UKCS. When the field was first discovered in 1977 the rock formations were so complex that BP’s geologists feared it would be impossible to produce oil from the reservoir. In fact, a note in BP’s archives about the find stated that there was “Little hope of this rock ever producing oil”.

Phase one of the development was brought on in 2005, and now phase two has started thanks to ‘decades of persistence’ according to Bernard Looney, BP chief executive, Upstream:
“The start-up of Clair Ridge is a culmination of decades of persistence. Clair was the first discovery we made in the West of Shetland area in 1977. But trying to access and produce its seven billion barrels proved very difficult. We had to leverage our technology and ingenuity to successfully bring on the first phase of this development in 2005.”

“And now more than 40 years after the original discovery, we have first oil from Clair Ridge, one of the largest recent investments in the UK. This is a major milestone for our Upstream business and highlights BP’s continued commitment to the North Sea region”.
Phase 2 of Clair Ridge marks the first offshore deployment of BP's enhanced oil recovery technology LoSal
(Image via BP).

Technology has been key to the development of the Clair Ridge field. The project has seen the first offshore deployment of BP’s enhanced oil recovery technology, LoSal, which has the potential to increase oil recovery from reservoirs by using reduced salinity water in water injection. This is expected to result in up to 40 million additional barrels being cost-effectively recovered over the lifetime of the development.

Phase two of the project has also been a long time in the making. BP originally sanctioned the project in 2011, and anticipated first oil would be achieved in 2016 at a cost of £4.5bn. However, two exceptionally tough winters slowed down proceedings pushing the project over-schedule and over-budget, with the total project cost estimated at around £4.9bn.

Infrastructure installed for the project has included two new, bridge-linked platforms and new pipeline infrastructure with the installation of a 5.5-kilometre, 22-inch oil export pipeline tying into the Clair Phase 1 export pipeline. Oil from Clair is exported to the Sullom Voe Terminal on Shetland. These new facilities have been designed with a life-span of 40 years. In total, the project is expected to recover an estimated 640 million barrels of oil with production expected to ramp up to a peak at plateau level of 120,000 barrels of oil per day.
Infrastructure installed for Phase 2 of the Clair Ridge project includes two new, bridge-linked platforms and new pipeline infrastructure.
(Image via BP).

The start of production of Clair Ridge follows the start-up earlier in 2018 of five other Upstream major projects: Atoll Phase One, offshore Egypt, Shah Deniz 2 gas development in Azerbaijan, TAAS expansion project in Russia, Western Flank B Offshore Western Australia and Thunderhorse Northwest Expansion in the Gulf of Mexico.

This string of developments will follow from 2017’s seven major project completions and is key to delivering the 900,000 barrels of oil equivalent new production that BP expects from new upstream major projects by 2021.

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Major milestone for North Sea as BP starts up Clair Ridge - Time to read 4 min
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