Drilling begins on Culzean project

Drilling of the first production well has started on the Maersk Oil operated Culzean field in the UK North Sea. It is the first of six production wells to be drilled on the high pressure/high temperature (HPHT) field.

Culzean Oil 1

The Culzean project

  • Maersk Oil operates the Culzean development with a 49.99% interest. Its co-venturers are BP (Britoil) 32% and JX Nippon, 18.01%
  • The field has resources estimated at 250-300 million barrels of oil equivalen
  • Production is expected to start in 2019 and continue for at least 13 years, with plateau production of 60,000-90,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day 
  • Culzean was approved by the UK Oil & Gas Authority in August 2015

Continuous drilling activity is planned over the next five years and first gas is expected to be produced from Culzean in 2019.

The Maersk Highlander rig, a newbuild acquired by Maersk Drilling earlier this year, has a five-year contract valued at approximately USD 420 million, including a mobilization fee of USD 9 million.

“This is an important milestone in ensuring that we can deliver Culzean on schedule, and with it 5% of UK gas demand in 2020/21,” says Gretchen Watkins, CEO designate, Maersk Oil.

“It’s great to have Maersk Drilling as a partner and together we are working to ensure a safe drilling programme on this critical project for Maersk and the UK.”

The first well
Maersk Highlander is drilling the first production well through a wellhead platform (WHP) jacket – the stable platform that will be the basis of the production facility - and well access deck (WAD), which were successfully installed on location at the field in the spring of 2016.

Culzean Oil

This is an important milestone in ensuring that we can deliver Culzean on schedule, and with it 5% of UK gas demand in 2020/21.



When the three platform topsides – the upper half of the structures, above the sea – are installed in 2018 and hooked up in 2019, three of the six production wells will be ready for first gas. The WHP jacket and WAD were constructed in the Netherlands and Hartlepool, UK, and construction of the wellhead topsides continues in Singapore.

The drilling campaign will be supported by more than 30 UK based well services companies.

Virtual rig

Maersk Drilling and Maersk Oil have jointly prepared the drilling on a digital ‘virtual well’, using a specialised drilling simulator at Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University.

“Working on a virtual rig, designed to look and feel like the Maersk Highlander has been invaluable,” says Andrew Lough, Culzean’s Wells Delivery Manager.

“It has enabled us to prepare in a very lifelike environment for the drilling campaign, which will contribute to a safe and efficient drilling operation that will be an important milestone in developing the largest new field discovered in the UK North Sea for more than a decade.”