The Chiswick Alpha development well (Venture - 95.0%) was successfully drilled and has been completed and suspended pending hydraulic fracturing. The well encountered reservoir quality in line with expectations and the Noble Kolskaya jack-up drilling rig will return to the field in late June to drill Chiswick Gamma, the second development well and to facilitate the hydraulic fracturing of the Alpha well. The availability of a well stimulation vessel had initially proved to be a challenge. However, Venture has entered into an arrangement to secure an appropriate vessel and equipment in July. First gas from Chiswick is now expected in early September 2007, slightly later than was originally planned but still well within schedule to benefit from the anticipated seasonal rise in winter gas prices.
The development of the Mimas field (Venture - 15.0%) is now almost complete with the installation of the tie-back to the Saturn unit production facilities (Venture - 22.0%). Sub-sea construction and tie-in is expected to finish by the end of May and gas production will start immediately thereafter.
Narwhal (Block 28/2a)
An electromagnetic resistivity survey over a 24 km length within Block 28/2a (Venture -100%) has been successfully completed and has confirmed the presence of an oil anomaly updip from the original well on the Narwhal heavy oil discovery. This new data has further delineated the oil-bearing reservoir and means that the planned appraisal well (28/2a-B) can be drilled with increased confidence. This well will aim to prove the oil quality distribution within the reservoir and to prove sufficient recoverable reserves to support an economic development of the field. The well is expected to spud during August 2007. Exact timing for the appraisal well being dictated by the arrival of the Noble Ton van Langeveld ("Noble TvL") semi-submersible drilling rig.
Central North Sea Drilling Operations
Venture has a four well appraisal program planned for the Noble TvL targeted at delivering additional production from 2009 onwards. The program will commence with a vertical well to appraise the Pilot heavy oil field in Block 21/ 27a (Venture - 70.4%) and is planned to follow on with appraisal wells on the Narwhal (Venture - 100.0%), Millburn (Venture - 70.0% net) and Grouse (Venture - 50.0%) accumulations during 2007.
The Noble TvL is currently in dry dock whilst routine maintenance checks are carried out and new cranes are installed. Upon completion of the shipyard work, the rig will commence its two year contract with Venture. The expected arrival of the rig is now late June, however, this does not affect the timing of first production from any of the targeted wells, the earliest of which is anticipated onstream during 2009.
Greater Kittiwake Area ('GKA') Pipeline
This first section of the pipeline being built by North Sea Infrastructure Partners between the Kittiwake platform and the Forties Pipeline System has been successfully laid offshore with the remainder scheduled to be completed around the end of May. This important infrastructure project remains on schedule and budget to provide a permanent export solution for the Greater Kittiwake Area by the fourth quarter this year. The new pipeline is expected to improve operational uptime substantially, lower overall operating costs and allow GKA field life to be extended.
Commenting on the news, Mike Wagstaff, Chief Executive said:
"While the results of the Amanda appraisal are disappointing, we have an extremely active drilling program for this year and beyond which is expected to maintain our strong growth. We entered 2007 with operational activity at record levels and, despite challenging offshore operating conditions and a tight market for equipment and services, we have maintained our momentum. With forward prices for gas now firming and oil prices remaining very buoyant we are confident in our ability to continue on a steady and profitable growth path."
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