The Culzean project
- Approved by the UK Oil and Gas Authority in August 2015, Culzean is located about 240 kilometres off Aberdeen and is expected to produce enough gas to meet 5% of total UK demand at peak production in 2020/21
- Maersk Oil UK (49.99%) is the operator of the high pressure, high temperature (HPHT) field. JX Nippon (34.01%) and Britoil (BP) (16%) are its partners
- It benefits from an HPHT fiscal allowance, which exempts a portion of a company’s profits from the supplementary charge, or top-up tax paid by the North Sea industry
Claus Vissing-Jørgensen turns to the left and starts across the bridge, leaving the processing facility for a 150-metre walk above the North Sea waves. He has already taken a tour of Culzean’s well head platform and is about to take the stairs and pass a series of cabins and leisure rooms before reaching the canteen.
Vissing-Jørgensen, Facilities Manager for the Culzean gas project, is not offshore – and the platforms do not even exist yet. Instead, he is in the more comfortable surroundings of Maersk Oil’s Aberdeen office, using a virtual reality tool to troubleshoot potential issues in the hardware that is expected to start producing in 2019.
“It’s an intelligent way of looking at the design through different eyes,” says Vissing-Jørgensen. “It means we can avoid future complications and ensure we are building safety into the design of the project, using best environmental practice and best available technology.”
The long distance between three separate platforms – for drilling and production, processing and accommodation – is one of many distinctive characteristics of the Culzean project, which will harness cutting-edge technology to extract gas under temperatures of up to 175o C and pressure that is equivalent to being nine kilometres under water. Maersk Oil’s share of the investment is USD 2.3 billion.