Statoil Begins Drilling on Alpha North

Drilling began on the first production well on the Statoil-operated Alpha North satellite in the North Sea's Sleipner West field in the early hours of August 13th. A gas and condensate field, Alpha North is to be developed with three or four wells and a subsea production system.

Transocean's semisub, Transocean Searcher, will be performing the drilling, which is expected to take about a year, reports Turid Eikebu Alfsen, head of the Sleipner drilling and well completion department. "The drilling program has been well planned and builds on earlier experiences from Sleipner West," says Ms. Eikebu Alfsen.

Alfa North will be tied back to the Sleipner T gas treatment platform via an 18-kilometer pipeline. The gas is rich in carbon dioxide, and will accordingly be passed through the T platform's separation plant to remove this substance before being pumped into the Utsira aquifer via the Sleipner A platform.

Sleipner West is the only field in the world with such a separation plant. Technically recoverable reserves in Alpha North are put at roughly 13 billion cubic meters of gas and about 32 million barrels of condensate. The field is due to start producing on October 1, 2004.

Statoil has 49.5 percent of Alpha North, with ExxonMobil holding 32.24 percent, Total 9.41 percent and Norsk Hydro 8.85 percent.