Equinor Transfers Operatorship Of North Platte To Shell
Norwegian oil and gas major Equinor has agreed to sell to supermajor Shell 51 percent of its interest in the North Platte deepwater development project in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.
Equinor said that it would retain a 49 percent interest in the project, and that Shell would become the new operator of the field. The company added that the transaction was subject to customary conditions and authority approval.
To reflect this change, Equinor and Shell have agreed to rename the North Platte development to the Sparta development.
Sparta straddles four blocks of the Garden Banks area, 171 miles off the coast of Louisiana in approximately 4,265 feet of water depth. Front-end engineering and design (FEED) has already been matured for the project. Equinor and Shell will now work closely to review the work that has been completed and to update the development plan.
Since 2005, Equinor has built up a sizable position in the Gulf of Mexico, which offers some of the highest value, and lowest carbon-intensity oil and gas production in the company’s portfolio.
“Equinor has a long-term view of Sparta as a high-quality project with a clear strategic fit for the company. Sparta will strengthen our position in the Gulf of Mexico as well as our overall role as a reliable energy supplier to the U.S.,” says Chris Golden, Equinor’s Senior Vice President for the U.S. Upstream, Exploration, and Production International.
“This is a development opportunity that is expected to add significant value with lower carbon emissions intensity. We are pleased to welcome Shell and look forward to sharing our experience and technology to move this valuable project forward,” says Golden.
It is worth reminding that, initially, Cobalt International Energy had a 60 percent operating interest in the North Platte discovery – now Sparta. Total, which had held the remaining 40 percent interest, acquired an additional 20 percent interest from Cobalt for $339 million, as part of the latter’s bankruptcy auction sale, in March 2018. Equinor joined as a partner by acquiring Cobalt’s remaining 40 percent interest.
In February 2022, Total decided to withdraw from the deepwater project and relinquish the operatorship to allocate capital to more promising projects within its global portfolio.
Total and Cobalt discovered the oil field by drilling an exploratory well to a total depth of 34,500 feet in December 2012. The discovery well intercepted several hundred feet of net oil pay and several high-quality intervals in the Lower Tertiary sandstones of the Wilcox Formation. The field was subsequently appraised by three appraisal wells and three sidetracks.
Sparta will be developed by drilling eight wells from two subsea drilling facilities and tying back the subsea wells to a new, lightweight, semi-submersible floating production unit through two production loops. The FPU will be designed to accommodate additional tie-ins in the future.
As for Equinor’s assets in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, it holds working interests in Caesar Tonga, Heidelberg, Julia, St Malo, Stampede, Titan, Big Foot, and Vito oil fields.
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