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North Sea Buzzard forecasts revised lower

05 Jan 2018 16:50 GMT
North Sea Buzzard forecasts revised lower

London, 5 January (Argus) — The decline in production at the North Sea's Buzzard field in the coming months will be steeper than originally thought, although increased production elsewhere on the Forties Pipeline System (FPS) will offset much of the decline, according to figures from FPS operator Ineos.

Unstabilised Forties production will be slightly higher than Ineos previously expected in the first quarter. January's forecast is little changed at 430,300 b/d, but February's forecast has been raised by 1.7pc to 452,700 b/d, with the forecast for March up by 0.6pc at 446,700 b/d. Unstabilised production in April is expected to drop to just 433,200 b/d.

But forecasts for Buzzard, the largest field on the FPS, have been revised down for the period. Ineos predicts Buzzard to produce around 137,000 b/d in January, a drop of 2.4pc from earlier forecasts, with February's forecasts revised down by 2.5pc to 136,000 b/d and the March forecast cut by 3.3pc to 134,000 b/d. Buzzard production is then expected to decline further, to just 133,000 b/d in March.

Buzzard production peaked at 218,000 b/d in 2009 and the field continued producing almost 200,000 b/d until 2013. Output has declined since then and that decline looks to be accelerating.

Buzzard's decline has been partly offset by new start-ups on the FPS. Production from fields other than Buzzard on the FPS is expected to average 293,000 b/d in January, up by 1.2pc from previous forecasts. February's forecast has been raised by 3.6pc to 316,000 b/d, and the March forecast has been raised by 2.4pc to 313,000 b/d. But production from fields other than Buzzard is then expected to decline by 4pc to 300,000 b/d in April.

Forties output benefits in the winter months as liquids output peaks from the North Sea's gas fields. Gas fields typically turn down their output from April.

Figures from Ineos show Buzzard's share of the Forties blend at zero in the week to 24 December — when Buzzard was shut down as the FPS underwent unscheduled repairs. In the following week, Buzzard's share climbed to 41pc, up from 31pc prior to the shutdown. The large share for Buzzard suggests it was one of the first Forties entrance to come back on line following the restart of the FPS.