Shell restarts Pierce field

Upgrade allows gas production after years of only oil

Shell U.K. Ltd. said its upgrade of the Pierce field in the UK Central North Sea will allow gas to be produced after years of the field producing only oil.

The company said substantial modifications were made to the Haewene Brim floating production, storage and offloading vessel (FPSO), which is used to produce hydrocarbons at the Pierce field. A new subsea gas export line was also installed, connecting to the SEGAL pipeline system, which brings gas ashore at St Fergus, north of Aberdeen.

“The completion of this major project is testament to Shell’s long-standing commitment to the UK North Sea,” said Shell Upstream Director, Zoe Yujnovich. “We took this investment decision in 2019, and it is now increasing locally produced gas right at the time when this additional supply is critically important for the UK’s energy security. It’s a source of huge satisfaction when projects like Pierce come to fruition.”

Pierce is a joint venture between Shell companies (operator, 92.52%) and Ithaca Energy (UK) Limited (7.48%.)

To enable the upgrade, the FPSO, which is owned and operated by Bluewater, stopped producing in October 2021. It then spent six months in dry dock where it was transformed into a vessel that could also produce gas, which had previously been re-injected into the reservoir.

Peak production is expected to reach 30,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, which is more than twice the production prior to the redevelopment, with more gas being produced than oil. The gas will be sent through newly installed subsea pipelines and the oil will be transported by tanker, as before.

The redevelopment of the field is consistent with the UK Government’s North Sea Transition Deal

and Shell’s Powering Progress strategy, providing the energy people need today while helping to fund investments in the low-carbon energy system of the future. Other recent UK projects include Shell’s plans to develop floating offshore wind in Scotland which could bring clean energy to power the equivalent of 6 million homes, the Jackdaw gas field, as well as our commitment to growing the UK’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

The Pierce field lies around 165 mi. (265km) east of Aberdeen, Scotland, in water depths of around 262 ft. (85m). It was discovered in 1975, with oil being produced since 1999.

The redevelopment of the Pierce field is part of Shell UK’s broader intent to invest £20-25 billion in the UK energy system in the next decade, subject to Board approval and a stable investment climate, 75% of which will be focused on the development of low and zero-carbon products and services. To deliver this significant investment, projects must remain economically viable under the recently revised UK tax regime.

The Pierce project is one of eight investment decisions Shell UK took in 2018 and 2019 alone in order to sustain North Sea production. These projects ranged from major redevelopments such as Pierce and Penguins, to tiebacks from fields such as Fram and Arran to existing platforms.

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