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UK driller claims latest oil discovery is part of largest undeveloped field in UK waters

28 March 2017

UK-based Hurricane Energy has made a significant oil discovery west of the Shetland Islands days after Royal Dutch Shell and BP won exploration licences in an area the UK is counting on to breathe new life into its struggling oil and gas industry. This latest find adds confidence to the company's claim that this it is likely to be the biggest new oil discovery on the UK Continental Shelf this century.

The Halifax well was drilled by the semi-submersible Transocean Spitsbergen
The Halifax well was drilled by the semi-submersible Transocean Spitsbergen

Hurricane claims to have data that backs up the company’s view that the Lancaster field and Halifax prospect are one single large hydrocarbon accumulation. The firm’s chief executive officer said initial findings back up the idea that the two prospects are connected – forming one of the “largest undeveloped discovery on the UK Continental Shelf”.

CEO Dr Robert Trice said: “This is a highly significant moment for Hurricane and I am delighted that the Halifax Well results support the Company’s view that its substantial Lancaster discovery has been extended to include the Halifax licence. We believe that the Greater Lancaster area is a single hydrocarbon accumulation, making it the largest undeveloped discovery on the UK Continental Shelf.

“The discovery of a 1 km hydrocarbon column at Halifax validates the efforts the company undertook to acquire the licence and drill, test and log the Halifax Well through the winter months.

“Given the positive well results, the Halifax Well has been suspended to provide the Company the option to return to undertake further testing as well as provide the option to deepen the well and thereby establish a definitive oil water contact.

“These are exciting times for Hurricane.”

Following discussions with the Oil & Gas Authority, the Halifax Well has been suspended to allow for potential future operations to either deepen and/or undertake further testing of the well, the programme for which will be determined following analysis of the well results.

Hurricane's forecast that Greater Lancaster could contain 1bn barrels of recoverable oil follows an announcement by the company in February that its initial 300m barrel estimate from the field was too conservative and that it was expecting a "material uplift" in anticipated reserves.

An analysis of the Halifax well found a column of oil-bearing rock of at least 1,156m, which was described as "very significant". The company had expected a prospect of a 700m oil column.

Hurricane's next step will be to procure funding to help it pay for early development, which is expected to require several hundred million dollars. Production in the field, which is located around 100 km west of Shetland, is expected to start in the first half of 2019.

Shell and BP were last week awarded licenses to drill in nearby exploration blocks in a sign of renewed interest among large oil and gas groups in the west of Shetland region, even as they withdraw from more mature parts of the North Sea.


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