Drilling Operations Commence at Shell's Jackdaw Field in the North Sea
Posted 15/08/2023 13:07
Energy conglomerate Shell is poised to initiate drilling activities at its Jackdaw field located in the Central North Sea. As per a notice to mariners issued by Kingfisher Information Services, the drilling window for the Valaris 122 rig is set to open today. The comprehensive drilling and completion operations are projected to span approximately 538 days, with an anticipated completion date in February 2025.
During this operational period, the Valaris 122 rig will execute drilling for four wells – JD02, JD03, JD05, and JD06 – through the recently installed Jackdaw platform. Valaris' most recent fleet status report indicates that this ultra-premium harsh environment jack-up rig has been under Shell's lease agreement since November 2022.
The existing lease contract is set to conclude this month and will be succeeded by another contract, scheduled to run from September 2023 to January 2025. This new contract carries a value exceeding $60 million, based on an estimated duration of 500 days.
Shell envisions the Jackdaw field, situated about 155 miles east of Aberdeen, to commence production in the mid-2020s. The field infrastructure encompasses a wellhead platform and subsea components connected to the existing Shearwater production hub.
At its peak production capacity, Jackdaw is projected to yield around 40,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, contributing to more than 6% of the anticipated UK North Sea gas output.
Shell has committed to investing £500 million in the UK to realize the project, with startup operations expected in 2025.
In the past year, Aker Solutions secured a contract encompassing engineering, procurement, construction, and installation for the Jackdaw platform. The first phase of this work, including the steel substructure complete with pre-drilling, is projected for delivery to Shell in 2023. The topside component is scheduled to follow in 2024, with fabrication occurring at Aker Solutions' facility in Verdal, Norway.
However, the Jackdaw project has encountered legal opposition and protests, along with regulatory hurdles. The UK's Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment (OPRED) initially rejected the project's environmental statement in October 2021, leading to uncertainty. Subsequent approval came in June 2022, supported by a renewed focus on domestic production. Notably, the Stop Jackdaw campaign group emerged in opposition to the project, and Greenpeace initiated a legal challenge against the UK Government's approval decision.
Greenpeace's action is on hold, pending a UK Supreme Court decision on a similar case. The group alleges that OPRED approved Jackdaw without adequately considering the emissions associated with burning the gas produced, a claim disputed by the department. Despite these challenges, Shell remains confident in the project's progression.