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'Weather bomb' hits Sable

From Upstream
Upstream the International Oil & Gas Newspaper, January 12, 2018, All articles provided by Upstream are protected by copyright. Any unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

ExxonMobil is aiming to resume production from its Sable gas complex off Nova Scotia after evacuating the Thebaud platform and jack-up Noble Regina Allen of non-essential personnel due to last week’s ‘weather bomb’, writes Iain Esau.

On 3 January, the supermajor advised that, based on forecast weather and sea-state conditions for the area of the Sable Offshore Energy Project facilities, it began down-manning non-essential personnel from both the platform and rig.

Two days later, a spokesman for ExxonMobil Canada said that “as part of our storm response, non-essential personnel remain ashore and Sable production continues to be temporarily shut-in”.

On 8 January, the spokesman told Upstream: “Our personnel were re-mobilised to our offshore facilities over the weekend to resume activities.”

He added that “a post-storm survey of facilities is being conducted prior to the safe restart of production from Sable”.

Production in November averaged 105 million cubic feet per day, though the facilities were originally designed to handle up to 500 MMcfd.

Wind speeds onshore Nova Scotia hit 170 kilometres per hour while wave heights of 17 metres were recorded offshore during the storm, whose pressure dropped more than 50 millibars in 24 hours (and went as low as 951 millibars), double the amount needed to be classed as a weather bomb.

Although Sable’s production was shut-in, Encana said that based on the forecasts for its Deep Panuke field some 40 kilometres to the west, a precautionary down-manning was not required.

The Noble Regina Allen arrived at Sable in late November and was carrying out well abandonment operations when the storm hit, as part of ExxonMobil’s ultimate plan to decommission the Sable complex.

On 11 December, the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB) approved plans to plug and abandon the Thebaud-1, -2, -3, -4, -5 and -6 wells as well as the South Venture-2 well.

The P&A operations, which will cover 21 wells in total, are a precursor for the eventual decommissioning and removal of the platforms located at each of the five fields, including Venture, North Triumph and Alma.

The Noble Regina Allen is currently setting mechanical and concrete plugs in strategic locations within wellbores to permanently seal wells, preventing hydrocarbons migrating up-hole.

Meanwhile, BP plans to drill a deep-water wildcat off Nova Scotia in the second quarter, pending an environmental assessment process and CNSOPB authorisation.

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