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IOG has been forced to delay development drilling in its
Southwark field, in block 49/21c in the UK Southern North Sea, after a problem
was detected in one of the legs of jack-up
Noble Hans Deul during jacking operations after arriving in the
field. The operator said that the incident occurred early on 10
October after the rig arrived in Southwark having completed its previous
well in Blythe, which like Southwark is being developed as part of the Saturn
Banks project (formerly Core 1). As the rig was undergoing “routine
jacking operations…an issue was identified on one of the legs of the rig”, said
IOG, which emphasised that no drilling or associated work was under way at the
time. IOG said rig owner Noble had begun an investigation of the incident
and it was expected that the rig would be transported to port to undertake any
necessary assessments before drilling can be safely resumed. IOG,
meanwhile, pointed out that it continues to expect first gas production from
the already-drilled Blythe and Elgood fields during the current quarter after
the completion of final subsea and onshore installation work.
Energy minister Greg Hands insisted this week there has been no change in UK Government policy on new oil and gasfield projects after a reported decision last week by the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning (Opred) to reject Shell’s environmental statement for the Jackdaw field in UK blocks 30/2a, 30/3a deep and 30/2d. Hands, in a social media post, said he had held a “useful” meeting with Shell and that the UK Government remains committed to the oil and gas sector and to the North Sea Transition Deal. No other details of the meeting with Shell were given, although Hands reiterated the company was targeting net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 and said it was “good to hear of its plans to boost hydrogen and carbon capture utilisation and storage too”. Opred has yet to provide formal confirmation the Jackdaw ES has been rejected, which in turn would effectively mean rejection of Shell’s development plan for the field as submitted. Shell has not given any details of what its next step might be on Jackdaw and is declining to comment until Opred's decision is published.
Scotland’s highest court, the High Court of Justiciary, has turned down Greenpeace’s legal action to block production from the Vorlich field, in UK central blocks 30/1c and 30/1f. The field, which is estimated to hold about 30 million barrels of oil, was developed by BP in partnership with Ithaca Energy at a cost of £230 million ($313.6 million) and has been producing oil since last November. Greenpeace wanted to halt production, arguing that failures in the public consultation process deprived it of the opportunity to object to the original application. The judgment, by Lord Carloway, Lord Justice General of Scotland, head of the Scottish judiciary, was hailed by OGUK as a victory for common sense and, more practically, for the UK’s energy security. The ruling, given in writing, rejected Greenpeace’s claim that a lack of warning about the development application for Vorlich gave it no chance to object. “As a leading environmental watchdog [Greenpeace] ought to have been well aware of the legal mechanisms available in order to mount a challenge. They did not use these mechanisms.”