By Martin Kelly
A new North Sea oil discovery has been announced by Abu Dhabi energy company TAQA. The company revealed that it had struck oil in the new Darwin oil field in the northern area of the North Sea near the Shetland Isles.
Leo Koot, the managing director at TAQA’s UK oil and gas business, said: “This discovery proves that the North Sea still has great potential and that it is possible to unlock opportunity and produce growth through the use of cutting-edge technology and focused investment. This is an exciting and challenging opportunity and we look forward to repeating our success in safe and fast field developments.”
The discovery comes one year after TAQA acquired a fifty per cent stake in the Darwin area which is approximately 130 km from the Shetland Isles.
The other fifty per cent is owned by Fairfield Energy whose chief executive officer, Chris Wright, said: “We are delighted with the excellent results from the Darwin drilling programme, which has seen one potentially significant discovery and confirmation of the areal extent of a previous discovery.
“The presence of two rigs concurrently on the location demonstrates the operational excellence and commitment of both Fairfield and TAQA, towards expediting exploration and appraisal of this important area.
“Furthermore, it demonstrates our team’s strong technical ability and, with our supportive investors augurs well for further successes as we continue to grow in the months and years ahead.”
Oil was discovered during the drilling programme which commenced in November 2012. Initial estimates suggested around 500 million barrels of oil could be extracted from Darwin, although reserves potential of the discoveries is currently being re-evaluated.
Oil was initially discovered in the Darwin area in 1975 by Amoco, however it was not considered economic to fully develop the discoveries at that time and the sector has remained under-developed ever since. The first oil production from the new discoveries is expected in 2018.
The new discovery follows news this week that Norwegian company Statoil has been given clearance to develop another major oil field in the North Sea.
The Mariner heavy oil field lies 150 km east of the Shetland isles. The £4.5 billion project is the largest offshore project in more than a decade and is expected to create around 700 jobs in the North east of Scotland.
Oil production from Mariner will commence in 2017 and will run for thirty years. It is estimated that initial production will see 55,000 barrels of oil produced each day.